Putting our own strengths to work

Putting our own strengths to work
A few days ago, the State Statistical Office published data on the number of births in Macedonia in the period 1994-2017. The data was not worrying, but alarming. 31,421 children were born in 1994, 23,361 in 2004, and 21,754 children in 2017, that is, Macedonia in the past two and a half decades lost about 10,000 newborns each year. The expectations are that the trend will continue and the question is, at what level the annual number of born children in the country will stabilize. On the other hand, as a result of the total social trends and circumstances, the average life expectancy of the population in the country increased from about 73 years in the mid-1990s to around 75.5 years of age (Eurostat data). Of course, the differences between men with the current 73.5 years of life expectancy, and women with 77.4 years remain relatively significant. It is normal that the expectations are that this trend of growth in the expected life expectancy of the population will continue.

An additional serious problem is that infant mortality in the country persists at a relatively high level of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is almost 2.5 times higher than that of the EU, which is 3.6 (Eurostat data). With such a high infant mortality rate, Macedonia now has a sweeping last place among the countries of the so-called Western Balkans, with the exception of Kosovo.

The result of these trends and even worse, but statistically formally unknown trends in the population eviction in search of a better life, in which the young population up to 40 years of age is almost fully involved, will be the rapid aging of the population in the country. If there are not any significant changes, Macedonia, like many other countries in the wider region, faces the danger of a dramatic change in the age structure of the population, accompanied by possible more serious changes in the ethnic and religious structure.

The latter may be the result of the fact that the dynamics of changes in the number of newborns vary considerably in municipalities where people live mostly orthodoxly, and those in which lives a population with mostly or completely Islamic faith, in favor of the latter.

However, such movements of the population almost did not affect the higher unemployment of more than 200,000 unemployed persons and an unemployment rate of over 20% in Macedonia and an even higher rate of potential unemployment with a reservoir of about half a million (500,000) people able to work, but are economically inactive, that is, formally, they are not kept as unemployed because they do not even look for work, but they essentially do not work and do not contribute to the potential production possibilities of our economy.

Problems with the reduced birth rate and the dangers of a serious age change, ethnic and religious structure of the population will be difficult for us to change in the long run (the next 10-15 years), and in the very long run (the next 20-40 years). It will be similar with the emigration from Macedonia. It is almost certain that people, especially the young generations, will continue to leave the country in the next 20-30 years and seek a better life and work in the world, because in addition to the situation in the country, this is influenced and will be further influenced by the processes of globalization, which made the world a "global village" indeed, in which everything, even the workforce and people in general, move easily and cross the state borders and administrative obstacles to work and live in another country. It should not be expected that the current anti-globalist and conservative attitude that has begun to prevail (the United States, Britain, Austria, Hungary, etc.) will be able to survive for a long time and prevent further globalization that is undoubtedly and will continue to move like something that is natural for the modern world. Indeed, the emigration of the labor force as a phenomenon is more pronounced on the relation of low and middle income countries to those with high income, but we also know that it is the relationship between high-income countries. For these reasons, for example, young German doctors go to work in Denmark and Norway, and computer scientists from Italy to Switzerland and the Netherlands.

But let's not deceive ourselves that problems will be solved by changing the name of the state or the nation. In our neighborhood (Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Turkey, Montenegro, Romania, Greece), but also in the more distant neighborhood (Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Cyprus), we are witnessing each day that states that are members of NATO or the EU, or both organizations face permanent and significant emigration by people in the most successful working years, and with fairly appreciated and conjugate professions and knowledge.

In such conditions, we can at least do something that will improve the life of this rather diminishing, but quite sufficient number of residents who will remain to work and live in Macedonia. Their hope and their reality must be raised so they can realize that they can have a better life even here. I do not think that anyone seriously imagines that one day we can have a stable, safe, rich, decent and certain life like those nations from the north and west of the continent, or as the smaller ones that managed to get a decent accession, such as Slovenia. But of course, we can do the things that depend on us, for which we do not need too much effort, and for which we cannot complain that they are an objective aggravating circumstance for which we need huge periods of time to change it.

What objective reason, for example, do we have that the public services at all levels of management are fairly inefficient, ineffective and overrated, and are modestly performing their responsibilities? Who imposed this or asked us, as, for instance, to change our name? What are the results of the education system in the country? Who, and for a longer period of time, asked us to bring pupils and students into a state of knowledge with their descending level, and their results to be in the last places in Europe, even lower than countries that are supposed to be behind us? Who should we blame that corruption in our society is at a high and worrisome level, and it has even been turned into an "acceptable" social phenomenon? Why voters are keen on corruption and does not bother them while circling candidates in the elections? Did someone force us? Did someone ask this from us to do in the process of transitional reforms? What happens to the judiciary? Where is our sense of righteousness and moral and judicial responsibility in society? Let’s stop the infinite listing, we need to ask ourselves what can be done, something that does not depend on anyone other than ourselves. These issues need to be resolved in a priority and fast manner. Then we leave them to solve those for which there are larger or smaller objective circumstances and therefore are more difficult, or we have problems that are insurmountable. Finally, for example, the first half of this very important year already passes, and we need to know if any of the authorities has made an analysis what de facto is going on economic plan, and in what direction is our economy going now? Are the set goals good and are we approaching them? Have we fulfilled all the tasks we set for the growth and development of the economy, and have we took all planned instruments and measures of economic policy?

They do not depend on the EU, NATO, or Prime Minister Tsipras' willingness to agree with one of Zaev's numerous proposals. For them, we need to put our strengths to work.

Nikola Popovski

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