Bulgaria is a country in Eastern Europe, more specifically the Balkans, it is currently going through major economic changes. The country is the poorest member of the European Union yet has many billionaires and multi-millionaires for an economy of its size showing the amount of income inequality.
Bulgaria is one of the few countries in the world suffering from a decline in population as well as being the country experiencing one of the fastest declines.The population change of Bulgaria is currently estimated at -0.67% per year between 2015 and 2020. The only country suffering a bigger population decline being Latvia with a population decline of -1.03%. It is important to know that this is the total population of people living in the country not the total number of Bulgarians around the world who have emigrated that has always been on the increase.
The reason for the fall of population is fairly simple and obvious, it is due to better economic conditions in other countries in the West. Thanks to Bulgaria joining the European Union this has allowed Bulgarians to move freely and work freely in all EU member states with many settling in those countries.
Regardless this does not seem to be affecting the economic situation in Bulgaria, the country is one of the only European countries with a budget surplus and its economy has seen steady growth since the 2007-2009 recessions. Bulgaria also has a very high number of millionaires and billionaires for a country with its economy as stated above.
The benefits of this for Bulgaria in the long term will be that if Bulgaria chooses the right path it can become a small but rich country like Switzerland or even Singapore with Bulgaria already cementing its place as an affordable I.T hub. Bulgaria’s biggest cities Plovdiv, Varna and Sofia have seen massive regeneration projects and modernization efforts with major investments from Russians, Chinese, German, Turkish and Israeli elite with property prices on the steady increase. With increase automation and improved robotics it is likely that labour shortage will not be as big of a problem which may spell problems for developing African countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria. Bulgaria’s unemployment late is also extremely low and has stayed low permanently for over 5 years.
The negatives however of the falling population is of course the brain drain with a lot of the most talented people moving abroad to earn more money for the same job and amount of work. A political problem is that Bulgarians from Turkish descent and the Roma population have a higher birth rate compared to Bulgarians which is seeing a rise in support for the far right and even neo-Nazi parties which is sad as Bulgaria is geographically positioned in a way making it impossible for it not to be a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities. When Bulgaria becomes a developed countries it will be an attractive place for immigrant professionals from poorer countries therefore it will be mandatory for it to get over nationalism if it wants to have a successful economy.
A population decline can be problematic and alarming but it will be the future reality of all countries in the world sooner or later as healthcare improves and people live longer (although these are not the reasons behind Bulgaria’s population decline). No one knows for sure how the world will change, but it is something we will have to adapt to, there is also the possibility of an eventual population increase as conditions in Bulgaria improve.