Small and Medium-Sized Towns Haemorrhaging Residents

Total Croatia News

Just due to low birth rates, Croatia lost almost 12,000 inhabitants in the first eight months of this year.

In the first eight months of this year, 24,431 children were born in Croatia, 236 more than in the same period last year. However, 36,376 people died by the end of August, which means there were 11,945 more deaths than births, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, reports Večernji List on October 17, 2018.

Although every increase in the number of born children is good news, even though it is just about 200 babies more, that is not enough since the mass emigration is continuing. Last year, the official number of persons who left the country reached the record 47,352 people. Unofficial and more realistic estimates say that about 80,000 people left. The small and medium-sized towns are virtually empty: Ilok, Županja, Knin, Beli Manastir, Pakrac, Lipik, Županja, Vukovar, Slatina, Benkovac… People are leaving, aware there are no jobs for them there.

These towns had the highest number of emigrants last year. Medium-sized towns, which are the key for the equal development of the regions, are collapsing. For example, Ilok had 6,767 residents in 2011, and 415 of them left just last year, with 304 people moving abroad and the rest to other parts of Croatia. The number of inhabitants of Ilok, the easternmost Croatian town, has been halved in recent years, leading to empty houses, closure of numerous shops and sports clubs.

“The situation is alarming, not just in Ilok, but in the entire Slavonia and Croatia. Still, the emigration has died down a bit lately and we even have a few families who have returned to the town,” says Ilok Mayor Marina Budimir. She adds that the town authorities are making efforts to help citizens and stop the emigration. “We did as much as we could. The state has to do the rest. It is necessary to lower taxes for salaries and businesses so that people can get higher wages. No one will work for the current minimum wage. The minimum wage in the vulnerable areas should be 5,000 kuna, which would help both entrepreneurs and citizens,” Budimir says.

In Beli Manastir in the Baranja region, which had 10,068 inhabitants in 2011, 580 people left last year, and most of them went abroad (334).

The situation is equally dramatic in Knin, which in 2011 had 15,407 inhabitants, and 880 people left the town last year, most of them (479) going abroad. Knin has lost one-third of the population in recent years and today there are only 10,000 people living there. Županja had 12,090 inhabitants in 2011, and today it is estimated there are only 7,000 inhabitants. In Vukovar, which had 27,683 residents in 2011, just last year 1,623 persons moved from the town, mostly abroad (843).

Even small towns with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, Pakrac and Lipik, lost about a thousand people last year, most of whom went abroad. In Benkovac, which had 11,026 inhabitants in 2011, 564 persons moved last year, 281 going abroad.

When it comes to municipalities, the data shows the hardest hit municipalities are located in Slavonia: Štitar, Babina Greda, Gornji Bogićevci, Borovo, Okučani, Cerna, Darda, Kneževi Vinogradi, as well as Donji Lapac in Lika-Senj County, and Gračac in Zadar County.

In Darda, which in 2011 had 6,908 inhabitants, 412 people left the municipality last year, including 236 who went abroad. “Men first leave, and they return in six months to a year to bring their wives and children with them. There are a lot of families who have left. They are moving to Switzerland, Germany, Ireland. Social benefits and child allowances are high in these countries, and this is also an incentive to move. Many people moving abroad have jobs in Croatia, but they are looking for a better life, against which we cannot fight as a municipality since we cannot give the locals a higher salary,” says Antonio Branilović, the deputy municipal mayor of Darda.

This municipality is among the best in Croatia in using EU funds. It has contracted about 60 million kuna worth of projects. They have also built an entrepreneurial zone, attracted investors and now have 15 new companies which lack workers. “Employees used to work in some cases 10 hours a day for 3,000 kuna a month. And now there is no one to work here. They earn three times as much abroad, and our employers cannot offer such conditions,” says Branilović.

Ladislav Šimko remembers when there were 35 cafes and restaurants in the village. “There are only five today, and they are half-empty. When you come out on Saturday night, there’s no one here,” says Ladislav.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Dijana Jurasić, Suzana Lepan Štefančić, Branimir Bradarić).


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment