The welfare state in Western Balkan countries: challenges and options

  • Gordana Matković FEFA Faculty – Economics Program, Metropolitan University, Belgrade (Serbia)
Keywords: welfare state, social protection, Western Balkan countries, challenges, options


The aim of the article is to assess the challenges facing Western Balkan welfare states and the available strategic options for enhancing social protection and human development in the region. The analyses of challenges encompassed the relevant EU and national statistics. For each challenge, channels were analysed, through which the impact on the welfare state was reflected. Both challenges and options were assessed against the experience of more advanced societies, especially EU countries.

The analysis has shown that most of the challenges identified in advanced societies are also present in Western Balkan countries. These challenges are intensified by these countries’ relatively low gross domestic product, unfavourable social situations, inadequate education, and poor health outcomes, including a number of microefficiency issues in the context of low investment in the social sector. High emigration, long-term unemployment, and the widespread grey economy are identified as particularly important challenges.

Among the strategic options, the small welfare state, universal social investment, and preventive welfare state were analysed. The conclusions emphasise the importance of efficiency as a complementary strategic option, as well as the need to prioritise and focus given the weak and limited administrative, institutional, and expert capacities in the region.


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How to Cite
Matković, G. (2019). The welfare state in Western Balkan countries: challenges and options. Stanovnistvo, 57(1), 27-52.