The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has prepared a new, expanded edition of the Social Development Index of Towns and Municipalities. The Social Development Index is a composite index providing comparisons of the achieved level of social development between towns and municipalities in the Republic of Serbia.
The Index provides the option of comparing the quality of life in towns and municipalities, sortable based on personal priorities under six areas: demographics, economic activity, education, social welfare, healthcare, other quality of life indicators, and social participation. The Index covers the period 2011-2016 and measures social development on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher index values designating better living conditions in a given local self-government unit.
According to the results of the Index, the level of achieved social development in the Republic of Serbia did not change significantly in 2016 compared to 2011. The demographic picture did not change significantly during the past period, continuing the trend of population aging with an increase in the dependence index (youth and the elderly), and in particular the dependence index for the elderly. Economic activity has had a positive impact on social development during the preceding period with an increase in employment, decrease in unemployment and a nominal growth of the average net salary. In the domain of education, along with an increase in per capita expenditures for education, progress was made on the inclusion of children aged up to 3 years of age in kindergartens, while the share of children aged 3 to the age of starting preparatory preschool programmes is nearly unchanged. Healthcare has made progress regarding longer expected lifespans, while the vaccination rate of children is decreasing. The share of beneficiaries of financial social assistance and child allowance has been relatively stable throughout the observed period (2011-2016), average pensions have achieved a nominal increase, while per-capita social welfare expenditures have seen a nominal decrease. Other quality of life and social participation indicators point towards an improved status of women in the political life, with a moderate increase in abstinence in elections.
Aiming to further improve the level of social development at the local level, the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, in addition to presenting the Social Development Index as part of an event titled “Data-Based Public Policy Creation at the Local Level”, held on Thursday, 13 December 2018, also announced the second Local Initiatives for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction (LIP) programme – a grant scheme for local self-governments.
The first grant scheme of the LIP programme was implemented in 2015/16, supporting 11 local initiatives under five thematic areas, covering the territory of 21 local self-government units across three regions in Serbia – Southern and Eastern Serbia, Šumadija and Western Serbia, and Vojvodina.
The LIP Program 2019/2020 will provide an opportunity for self-governments to implement their project ideas/initiatives in partnership with civil society organizations, with the topic: Local mechanisms for social inclusion through intersectoral social development policies. The public call for project proposals will be published in late January 2019.
(The text was originally published as the Introduction to the 54th Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Newsletter.)