How Many Liters of Gas Can You buy with an Average Balkans Salary?

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Since June 2014, crude oil price has fallen more than 70% percent on the world market. The cost of oil plunged so much that travel through the Suez Canal became unprofitable, since the voyage around the Africa became cheaper. The price of refined oil, on the other hand, is not so dependant on the world market, at least not in the Balkans. Although the prices of crude oil have fallen, the refined oil prices have changed not so drastically. The reason for the minor change in prices are high taxes. The "real" price of the refined oil (without taxes) is in most cases less than 50% of the retail price paid on gas stations.  According to...

Is Bosnia The Most Festive Country of The Balkans?

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
It's that time of the year again. People around the world are celebrating all kinds of holidays - Christmas, New Years' Eve, Hanukah etc. The people of the Balkans are especially joyful in the winter times. Many nations of the Balkans have their own traditions and customs. Three main religions in the Balkans are Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Islam. Christmas is one of the biggest Christian holiday. There is a common misconception that orthodox and catholic believers celebrate this day on a different date. The truth is even more complicated - even orthodox churches have different date for their Christmases. Orthodox churches of Serbia,...

Diabetes incidence in Serbia Reaches Alarming Level

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases, both in Serbia and worldwide. Diabetes occurs when the body can deal with its sugar deposits. This happens if the organism doesn't produce enough insulin, or the system can't use the insulin our bodies produce. According to the World Health Organization, around 350 million people have diabetes. In 2012 1.5 million people died of diabetes, of which more than 80% in low and middle-income countries.  Institute of Public Health of Serbia released data according to which 12,4% adult population in Serbia suffer from some form of diabetes. 95% of total diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes. It is...

Is Balkan Becoming A Europe's Top Outsourcing Destination?

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
The struggling economy of the Balkans is looking up, but far from the EU's standard. Salaries in some of the regions of the Balkans are more than 10 times lower than salaries in some of the EU countries. According to the national statistical offices of Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia, in 2013 the region of the capital of Bulgaria - Sofia had the highest average salaries in the region - nearly 750 $US. Average monthly salaries are highest in the regions of the capitals as well - Belgrade (635 $US) and Skopje (554 $US).   Wage curve is a negative relationship between the unemployment rate and a wage. This means the higher the unemployment is,...

Serbian Wine Regions - Negotinska Krajina

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Negotinska Krajina is a region located near the Serbian border with Bulgaria and Romania. The fertile ground of the region is elevated between the 60 and 480 meters. The Danube river flowing along the border, makes this region's climate stable, and also provides more sunshine due to the river's mirror effect. With such favorable conditions it's no surprise this region was known to grow grapes since the ancient times. The region of Bor, where Negotinska Krajina is situated is in the top 3 regions in Serbia by grape production, with more than 30,000 tons of grapes annualy.   The most distinctive part of Negotinska Krajina is Rajačke pimnice (...

Balkan Export Outlook

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Globally, the Balkan countries' economy is not in bad shape, but still lags behind the Europe's average. All the Balkan countries have an open market economy, and belong to upper-middle income range, except Greece, which is in the high income group of countries. GDP per capita is often used as a measure of standard of living, but can fluctuate due to exchange rates of local currency to US$. GDP per capita is the noticeably higher in the EU than in the non-EU countries. Slovenia and Greece have GDP over 20,000 US$, Hungary and Croatia over 10,000 US$, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia and Bulgaria between 5,000 and 10,000 US$, and...

Women's Political Participation in the Balkans

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Gender equality is the pursiut for equal treatment of men and women. One of the key aspects of gender equality is the decision making. When deciding about the future, there is no better place to be than in the political leadership of the country.   Although the years when women had to fight for their rights to vote are behind us, there are still some leftovers of patriarchy that are trying to keep women from actively participating in the political life of the Balkans. For this reason, some of the countries introduced gender quota system, to ensure critical minority (30-40%) of women in the decision making.  Accorrding to the World Bank, the...

Balkan Transport Network Modernization

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
On August 27th, 2015 Western Balkans Summit took place in Vienna. European institutions announced 200 million euro grant for co-financing 10 energy and transportation projects. The total value of the projects is estimated to be around 600 million euros. This infrastructure projects will only include Western Bakans countries in the process of EU integration - Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania and Macedonia.  When it comes to Bulgarian border regions, the road network is the longest in Serbian region of Pčinja (2,746 km). Some of the Bulgarian border regions will participate in the EU grants project. Some of the investment will be focused to...

Gender Differences in Balkan's Life Expectancy

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
Life expectancy is defined as an average number of years a person would live if mortality rates remain constant in the future. Average life expectancy for persons born between 2010 and 2013 in the whole world is 71 years, according to the World Population Prospects. The figures for the each country directly reflects the country's healthcare system, wars and HIV infections. Thus, persons in the developed countries live much longer than those in the developing world. People in Japan are expected to live an average of 84 years (87 for women, and 80 for men). On the other hand, in some African countries like Angola and Zambia, where HIV and...

Poverty in Balkan Countries

By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute
The poverty rate is the share of households that are below the poverty line which is defined as 60% of the median household income.  Data shows Macedonia to be the Balkan country with highest percent population living on or below the poverty line (27.1%). Second highest poverty rate belongs to Serbia - 24.6%. Situation in Serbia has reached the point where the ministry od labour and social affairs alarmed that 400,000 children are living in poverty. The transition from socialism to capitalism and the path to EU, caught off guard most of the Balkan countries, and caused turmoils in the region's economy, which resulted in high unemployment...