Serbia is investing in assisted reproduction technologies as one of its ways to boost the birth rate and combat the long-term decline of the population.
Serbia, like other countries in Emerging Europe, is experiencing long-term population decline due to a combination of low birth rates and mass emigration, mainly to Western Europe.
The country was identified in the latest set of projections from the UN Fund for Population (UNFPA) as one of the countries set to have the steepest population decline in the world by the end of the century. By 2100, Serbia’s population is forecast to drop by 55% to a low not seen since the early 20th century.
There was some better news from 2022, when the number of live births rose slightly year on year, while the number of deaths dropped, after the ravages of the pandemic the previous two years.
The statistics office reported that there were 62,250 live births in the country last year, which is 188 or 0.3% more than in 2021.
However, deaths still substantially outnumbered births during the year. There were 110,839 deaths in Serbia in 2022, down by 25,062, or 18.4% y/y.
At an event on January 25 marking Serbia's receipt of the first donated egg cells from a Spanish bank of reproductive material, Minister of Family Care and Demography Darija Kisic said assisted fertilisation with donated reproductive material “represents the crown of the state's support for the promotion of birth rates”.
Kisic told a press conference that with strong support from President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic changes have been made to increase access to assisted reproduction.
"I am extremely proud of the fact that our country has shown readiness, determination, and above all stability to financially support this pronatal policy measure," the minister said.
Among the changes made in recent years are enabling an unlimited number of attempts to conceive a first child, raising the age limit for such treatments and extending them to women with various health problems.
As a result, hundreds of couples and women who in previous years went abroad for fertility treatment can now obtain it in Serbia.
In tandem with greater access to fertility treatment, Serbia also announced an increase in benefits paid to new parents on January 25.
The Ministry of Family Care and Demography of the Government of the Republic of Serbia announced that the parental allowance for the birth of the first child from January 1, 2023 amounts to RSD345,398.70. Payments for second, third and fourth children have also been adjusted.
The amounts are adjusted twice a year, on January 1 and July 1, based on the movements in the consumer price index in the previous six months.