The ''oldest'' country in Europe

Bulgaria – white haired, deserted and gloomy. ‘That sounds horrible!’ some of us would say. Well, it does sound bad, really bad, but no matter all the negative trends, horrifying statistics and murky faces, every real Bulgarian hides a little spark of hope for brighter future somewhere deep in his heart.

Probably one of the most terrible trends in Bulgarian reality, which has been observed for a while now, is extremely low birthrate and the fact the problem is getting worse and worse annually. The population of ‘the poorest country in the European Union’ melts by about half percent per year as analysts previse that in 2050 Bulgarian population will be no more than 5 million people – however sinister, it is a very real scenario.

Why are Bulgarians disappearing?

The Bulgarian nation is melting at alarming rates and there are two main reasons for that – the immigration and the lack of social and economic development in the country. Many choose to live abroad and for those who prefer to stay in their home country, raising children has become way too expensive.

Actually, we all know what has to be done. Those sitting in cozy red chairs also know what has to be done and nobody does it. Why? Do those politically powerful, smartly-dressed individuals want to see the sunset of their own homeland? Well, happy days for them – the end is near – analysts expressed their concern by saying that by 2134 no Bulgarian national will be alive on the planet Earth.

What can be done in theory...?

And once again we/they all know what has to be done! If living conditions would improve by increasing incomes, if social and economic stability would be ensured, if quality education and better opportunities on the labour market for young people would be provided, then the population decline will in a slower pace.

...and what is the reality?

Yet this optimistic scenario remains far from reality. According to current data Bulgaria is among the countries with the highest youth unemployment, not only implying a lack of prospects in the labour market, but also a change of plans and intentions of young people to start their families. Every year hundreds of young Bulgarians leave the country to seek better opportunities abroad and most of them will never come back. Eventually, those young people would seek for permanent job abroad after the completion of their course at university, which means they would not settle themselves in Bulgaria nor raise children. That is the main reason for the horrifying statistics.

Physicians and analysts have announced that the birth rate in Bulgaria is lower than that during and after World War II. In the beginning of 2013 the birth rate in Bulgaria was lower than the record of 1945, when the world is in a global war, and Bulgaria suffered occupation coup and regime change.  In January 4975 babies were born, according to the register of births of the Health Ministry.

For the same period of last year births were 5474, or about 10% more. Alarming statistics come amid the sad record of 2012, when National Statistics Institute reported that 69, 678 babies were born, which is the worst statistic index since 1945. Even during the period of crisis and deep economic slump in 1997 the number of newborns was much higher. The birth rate in the country progressively decreased after a record in 2009, when there were about 81 000 newborn babies. In 2010, the number fell to 75 500 and in 2011 it was 70 800.

I want a baby!

Radina Velcheva, the founder of the non-governmental foundation ‘I want a baby’ argues that another main factor regarding the extremely low birthrate in Bulgaria is the low productiveness of the Bulgarian population. She explained that the tendency of women to give birth after they turn 30, which is largely common in Bulgaria, could determine the low quality of the human fertile organs. Radina also argues that the main reason Bulgarian women usually don’t even think of having a child before they turn 30, even 35, is their over commitment to studying and working at the same time. The need of doing both causes stress and intensive pressure on the human body as a whole, which causes the extremely poor quality of fertile organs.

And again, the factor Radina outlines could be directly linked to the poor economic condition the country is in and the economic, social and political crisis which reigns in Bulgaria. The crisis in not only in the Bulgarian citizens’ wallets, it’s in our minds as well.

Photo credits: 
Index Mundi
Edited by: Réka Blazsek