The average Serbian household consumption in 2019 was by more than half lower than the average consumption in the EU (49%).
Furthermore, according to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, gross domestic product per capita (at purchasing power parity taking into account price differences between countries) is even further away from the EU average and last year stood at only 41%.
According to both indicators, Serbia is at the bottom of the table of European countries, just ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and North Macedonia.
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Individual consumption is a measure of household material wealth, according to Eurostat, while GDP per capita is a measure of economic activity. Although far from the average of even the poorest countries in the EU, the 49% result is a slight improvement over the previous three years when Serbia was at 48% of the EU average.
Since 2008, Serbia was closer to average EU consumption in 2012, when average household consumption was exactly half of EU consumption.
GDP per capita compared to the EU increased last year and has returned to the 2013 level when it was 41% of the EU average. Although modest, it is the best result in the last 12 years since these statistics were published.
The fact that consumption is at 49% of the EU average also indicates the structure of consumption, says Jelena Žarković, professor at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade.
“It can be concluded that the EU citizens spend more on luxury goods and we spend more on basic necessities such as food, drinks, clothes and housing. However, I think that income is a better indicator of consumption as a measure of well-being. For example, unlike the EU, 20% of our workforce works as undocumented workers. Moreover, in our country, there is still natural consumption, i.e. people produce much more for their own survival than in the EU,” notes Žarković.
The Gini coefficient of Serbia, according to the so-called SILC survey on income and consumption in 2018, was among the worst in Europe (35.6%), just behind Bulgaria, which according to this parameter had the highest disparity in income distribution.
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