Serbia first in Europe in poverty

In Serbia, a quarter of the population, with the monthly income of 15,400 dinars, is considered poor, and our country tops the list of the poorest countries in the EU –  says the professor at the Faculty of Economics, Mikhail Arandarenko.

He was speaking at a panel discussion at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, on the occasion of the presentation a new issue of the journal Monitoring Social Situation in Serbia (MONS. Professor Arandarenko added that that poverty was still measured based on the assumptions in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan which was written 15 years ago.

“In Serbia, poverty is measured, not through the European concept of relative poverty which entails income that is under 60 percent of the national average, but through absolute poverty defined by a consumer basket which contains food products that are essential for bare survival,” Arandarenko added.

The concept of relative poverty, according to him, implies that poverty reduction is necessary not only for achieving economic growth, but also for reducing income inequality so that more people can participate in the economic, social and cultural life of the country.

“If we compare Serbia to the EU countries (including Turkey), our country ranks first in terms of the relative poverty rate, followed by Bulgaria, Portugal and Macedonia,” said Arandarenko.

He added that in 2016, the absolute poverty rate of the population with the income below 11,700 dinars was 7.3 percent, and that 1.5 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty.

Arandarenko also pointed out that absolute poverty was not only present in underdeveloped countries. For instance, in America, where the consumer food basket is much more bountiful, the poverty rate stands at 12.7 percent.

According to the assistant professor of the Faculty of Law in Belgrade, Danilo Vukovic today’s social policy is subordinate to the economy, as well as to the Poverty Reduction Strategy that is not valid anymore since its basic assumptions have not met the expectations that the effects of economic growth would spill over into the poor segment of the society and thus improve their position.

Vukovic says that the new social policies, embodied in the Employment and Social Policy Reform Programme, are based on the same assumptions, and they are also in the function of economic development.

“Today social policies do not address the causes of poverty or poor education and the elimination of the same, but offers the same solutions as from 15 years ago, which means that this government does not have a clear vision how to implement an effective social policy which, among other things, can be achieved by strengthening the political voices of those groups that are particularly affected,” Vukovic said.

“The Poverty Reduction Strategy was a product of the past time. Now, we should start a dialogue on how to eliminate constraints and how can sectoral policies reduce inequality, so that, for example, education becomes equally accessible for poor children to”, Vukovic added.

(Beta, 16.04.2018)

Photo credits: N1

This post is also available in: Italiano

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