In 2000, as a part of a global process, the Republic of Serbia adopted the Millennium Development Goals and incorporated them as an integral part of the National Strategy for Poverty Reduction. Not long thereafter, the MDGs were set up as benchmarks in several major areas of human development in Serbia. As a continuation of this process, the National progress report on MDGs was prepared in 2006 and a mid-term report in 2009. In the case of both reports, progress was recorded in regard to a majority of the indicators that had been monitored. However, after the mid-term report was submitted, the whole process of MDGs monitoring was neglected. The main aim of this analysis is therefore to create a concise overview over basic and general development tendencies in Serbia by reviewing selected indicators for 8 MDGs. More precisely, for each of the objectives defined under the 8 MDGs we have selected 2-3 major indicators that will help delineate development within the respective area of social and economic life. All indicators where measured at 3 moments in time, where possible, in the years 2005, 2008 and 2012.
HALVE THE POVERTY RATE AND ERADICATE HUNGER
This goal has not been achieved. The unemployment rate is Serbia is among the highest in Europe and poverty is increasing. The results in this field are heavily dependent on the level of economic growth. Thus, for a couple of years during mid 2000s when moderate economic growth was evident unemployment and poverty were decreasing, but as soon as the Global economic crisis brought heavy recession to Serbia this positive trend halted. It is not likely that this trend will be reversed significantly until 2015. It should however be stressed that 2013 has brought the first signs of economic recovery: there is a modest increase in the growth rate, increase in industrial production, and sharp decrease in foreign trade deficit. It seems that an important lesson was learnt during the recession years: future economic development policy should be sustainable and provide more jobs, since the limits of foreign debt and foreign trade deficits have already been overcome.
PRIMARY SCHOOL COMPLETED BY ALL GIRLS AND BOYS BY 2015
This goal has not been met. Firstly, major progress has been made in terms of education quality, but Serbia is still below EU average in all indicators, both in terms of TIMSS and PISA scores. Secondly, there are also warning signs that less and less children are completing primary schools. Although significant improvements have been made in coverage or Roma children through obligatory education, the situation is worsening in rural areas (both for non-Roma and Roma children). With this in mind, more support should be given to children in order to complete, at least primary education, and to development of quality in primary and secondary education.
GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
This goal has been met to a moderate extent. Labor market indicators show narrowing of the gap between men and women and their respective labor market position. Gender disparities have also been significantly lowered in fields of employment, unemployment and salaries. However, it is important to keep in mind that these developments to a large degree have been the consequence of negative economic crisis effects. As the crisis has had a stronger impact on the industrial sector male employment is higher, men also suffered an increase in unemployment. Due to a higher share of women employed in public sector, they were comparatively more protected during the crisis. It is however expected that austerity measures, which are expected to be implemented more firmly, will have a negative effect on employment of women. Decrease of employment in the private sector has also contributed to narrowing the pay gap, since this gap has traditionally been low in the public sector. Significant achievements have been made in political participation of women and their representation in positions of power – there are more women in the government and National Assembly. It should however be stressed that political presentation at local level is still marked by high gender inequality. In regard to the most severe form of gender inequality, family violence, it legal procedures have improved in terms of efficiency. Although the number of criminal charges has dropped, the share of convictions has increased. Since women are increasingly present in public positions, this visibility should be used to eradicate family violence and improve the position of women on the labor market.
REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY
This goal has almost been met, but positive developments have started to stagnate in the last couple of years. For instance, developments in terms of decrease of child mortality are stagnating in general while at the same time continuing to decrease among the Roma children. However, on this indicator Serbia could improve. Coverage with basic immunization has increased to a very high level, with good prospects for absolute coverage. Here, there are signs of stagnation just before the target has been reached. Pregnant women have been covered by medical care to a great extent. The only indicator showing reverse trend is breast feeding. This trend should be countered through more intensive awareness raising campaigns.
IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH
This goal has not been met. Although major improvements have been made in terms of decreasing the mortality rate of women and almost all childbirths are taking place in the presence of a medical worker, the reproductive health of women is still under risk and maternal mortality has increased. A lot more effort should be put in raising of awareness of reproductive health risks and adequate health support to mothers.
COMBAT HIV/AIDS, TUBERCILOSIS AND OTHER DISEASES
This goal has been achieved to a great extent, especially with regard to combating of HIV/AIDS. The number of infections and AIDS related deaths decreased since 2000. The same trend can be seen in regard to tuberculosis: the number of infections has decreased, while successful treatment of new cases has a tendency to reach the desired 95%. The increase in life expectancy is also important and brings Serbia closer to the European average. The issue with young people trying psychoactive substances is serious and demands wide and well coordinated action of awareness raising and prevention.
ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
At first glance it might seem like this goal has been achieved to a great extent since progress has been recorded in all indicators. There is less pollution and more orientation towards cleaner energy, and more households have access to clean water and sanitation. However, a few remarks have to be made. Firstly, it should be stressed that some of the values on the selected indicators could be improved (decrease of usage of solid fuel, the level of air pollution). Secondly, many indicators of environmental sustainability have high degree of variation and progress in this area is highly sensitive to the economic situation in the country and institutional support.
DEVELOP GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS FOR GROWTH
This goal has been basically presented through economic indicators. Consequently, the worse result in regard to meeting the Millennium Development Goals in Serbia can be seen here. The growth rate is low, the GDP is decreasing, direct foreign investments are extremely low, and the share of foreign trade deficit and indebtedness in GDP are above critical limits. Under these circumstances it should be assessed as positive that the budget expenditures for public education and public health care remained on more or less same level, although below European average. However, it is worrying that, under proposed austerity measures, these two important sectors will be jeopardized, which points to the necessity for defining socially sustainable models of economic growth for the future.