* For correspondence.
Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology 18, No 3, 1249–1258 (2017)
Public health – environmental medicine
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF AGEING OF MONTENEGRIN
D. MIJANOVIC, M. BRAJUSKOVIC, D. VUJACIC, V. SPALEVIC*
Department of Geography, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Montenegro,
Abstract. Demographic movements in Montenegro are the result of natural and mechanical move-
ments conditioned by various factors, but the crucial ones were: for the natural movement down-
ward trend in the birth rate, which started in the 70’s in the city and later in rural areas, and for the
mechanical movement, industrialisation was crucial, industrialisation which from the 60’s to the
80’s was intense, causing mass migration from villages to the city, as well as economic conditions,
which, unfortunately, have never been at such a level to keep the population within the Republic, so,
besides interior, external migration from Montenegro was always present to a greater or lesser extent.
This led to the ageing of population of Montenegro, whose population is at the stage of demographic
ageing at the transition to deep demographic age, especially in the northern region, which is already
at the stage of deep demographic age.
Keywords: age structure, industrialisation, migration, depopulation, ageing population.
AIMS AND BACKGROUND
Montenegro is situated in South-Eastern Europe, in the Balkan region. It is divided
in three regions which share climatic, lithologic, hydrographic, and vegetation
characteristics: Coastal Montenegro, Central Montenegro, and North (Eastern)
Montenegro1–4. Like the rest of the world, Montenegro is an ageing society5,6. De-
mographic ageing is a term for shifts in the age distribution (i.e. age structure) of a
population toward older ages. A direct consequence of the ongoing global fertility
transition (decline) and of mortality decline at older ages, population ageing is
expected to be among the most prominent demographic trends of the 21st century7.
Signicant proportion of Montenegro is elderly, and Europe already has a
higher proportion of its population that is over the age of 65. In 2000, 16.0% of the
population in the UK and 16.4% of the population of Germany was over the age
of 65 (Ref. 2). At the beginning of the 60s of the 20th century, when the intensive
process of industrialisation began, the population of Montenegro with 44.4% of
young people; 77.8% of population under the age of 40; 10.4% of the old popula-
tion; and the age index of 0.23, was in the stage of demographic maturity.
In the same period northeast region was in the stage of demographic youth turn-
ing into demographic maturity; northern region was at the stage of the demographic
maturity, central region in the stage of the demographic maturity transitioning into
the threshold of the demographic old age and the coastal region, which had the
most unfavourable population structure was in the stage of the threshold of the
demographic old age. The most favourable age structure had Rozaje municipality
(North-eastern Montenegro) with the age index of 0.11. The most unfavourable
municipality was Budva with the age index of 0.45 (Ref. 8).
In this paper the changes of the age structure of the Montenegrin population in a
30-year period (from 1981 to 2011) were analysed at the state, state regions and
municipalities level, with special emphasis on the current situation. The causes
of ageing of the population will be found in the observed areas and this shall
indicate the consequences caused by this process, by using all standard methods
necessary to work with statistical materials on the population at national, regional
and local level. This includes the standard demographic techniques, mathematical
calculations related to the indexes of age, and age-dependence coefcients, and
the average age of the population, using the Microsoft Excel, and the visualisation
of demographic data and concepts, analysing the available international and local
literature dealing with demographic subjects.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Changes in age structure of the population in Montenegro in the period 1981–2011.
The European population is ageing and future changes in both population demo-
graphicsand life span9. In general, at the level of the European continent, longer
life span is recorded in developed countries, the (statistical) boundary between
mature and old groups is shifted; Age is considered to be a population of 65 and
over. The classication of the population of the Balkan countries in 2012 accord-
ing to the share of persons of 65 or older (based on data: PRB, 2012- Ref. 10) is
presented in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. Classication of the population of the Balkan countries in 2012 according to the share of
persons of 65 or older (Source original, based on data: PRB, 2012)
In the period from 1981 to 2011 the age index increased from 0.29 to 0.70,
with the average age of 37.2 years, indicating that the population of Montenegro
hastransitioned into the stage of demographic old age. The main impact on the
ageing of the population of Montenegro had a decline in natural increase: from the
70s to 2.2 ‰ in 2011 (Ref. 11). Another important factor that contributed to the
ageing of the population is the emigration, which has increased at the beginning
of the 21st century. From 2003 to 2011, through natural increase received 15 379
inhabitants, but the actual growth was 5121 inhabitants.
Table 1. Five-year range groups of population in 1981 and 2011 (amount and percentage)
Age groups 1981 2011
amount % amount %
0–4 54601 9.3 38950 6.3
5–9 52632 9.0 38430 6.2
10–14 53314 9.1 41371 6.7
15–19 57569 9.9 44093 7.1
20–24 54740 9.4 42816 6.9
25–29 49254 8.4 45793 7.4
30–34 41494 7.1 44495 7.2
35–39 30259 5.2 41879 6.8
40–44 38261 6.5 40496 6.5
45–49 33922 5.8 43089 6.9
50–54 31093 5.3 43613 7.0
55–59 22324 3.8 41223 6.6
60–64 14221 2.4 34196 5.5
65–69 15722 2.7 22121 3.6
70–74 13913 2.4 25141 4.1
75–79 18386 3.1 17184 2.8
80–84 – – 10021 1.6
85 and more – – 5118 0.8
Source of data: National Bureau of Statistics, 1981, Census of the population, households and apart-
ments in 1981; – results by settlements and municipalities, Titograd; Monstat-Bureau of Statistics,
2011: chart CG17 – age and sex of Montenegrin population.
Strong industrialisation, since the mid-60s and later, caused strong migrations
from rural to urban areas and from northern regions to central and south because
the largest and most important industrial facilities are located in the central region,
while in the coastal region the development of tourism began, which from its own
demographic reserves could not meet the needs of the manpower. On the other hand,
the increasing neglect of agriculture by the state and rapidly weakening economic
power of the villages, which until the mid-60s, were the bearers of demographic
and economic development of Montenegro, as well as poor transport infrastructure
that have led to accelerated agriculture regression and the ageing of the population
of the country northern parts, especially the northern region.
In 2011 it was in the stage of deep demographic old age with an age index of
1.09 and average age of 41.4 years. The oldest population in the northern region,
and in Montenegro, had the municipality of Pluzine (North-West Montenegro).
Very unfavourable circumstance for the population of the north region is the fact
that it had a negative natural increase for a long time, which in addition to emigra-
tion accelerates the ageing of the population.
Fig. 2. Age and sex charts of Montenegro population in 1981 and 2011
The Northeast region at the beginning of the observed period (1981) had the
most favourable age structure of the population, but thanks to the increased emigra-
tion it also got affected by the ageing process. The population was in the stage of
demographic maturity, with the percentage of young people with the age index of
0.19, thanks to youth of the Rozaje municipality (North-East Montenegro) which
was in the stage of demographic youth (Fig. 3). This region was characterised by
the most intensive emigration in the country (because the northern region was
already demographically emptied by the 80s), which, with a signicant decline in
the natural increase, reected in the age structure of the region in 2011. Percentage
in total of the young population has decreased and percentage of old population in
total increased as well as the age index at 0.55, and the average age of the popula-
tion was 35.9 years of age, which are the characteristics of the population in the
transition from threshold of the demographic old age to the demographic old age.
Central region, along with the Coastal zone was attractive for the immigrants.
In the Central region largest industrial facilities were concentrated. Podgorica had
special attractiveness, as the capital of Montenegro. Signicant amount of popula-
tion migrated to the central region from the northern parts of the country, which
reected on the regressed acceleration of the ageing of the population of Podgorica
and the central region generally. With age index of 0.29, this region has, since 1981
been in the stage of the threshold of the demographic old age, thus it had slightly
older population than back in the 60s. The process of the ageing of the population,
albeit at a slower pace than at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century,
took place in this region too, so this region, in 2011, with much lower percentage
of young and increasing percentage of old population, and the age index of 0.66,
and an average age of 38 years, was in the stage of demographic old age. The old-
est population was in Cetinjewhich is in the deepest stage of demographic old age.
Table 2. Percentage of the ve-year range groups in total regions population (1981 and 2011)
0–4 10.9 7.7 9.3 8.8 7.5 4.3 6.5 6.1
5–9 10.9 8.0 8.7 8.1 7.2 5.2 6.3 5.6
10–14 11.6 9.1 8.4 7.5 7.6 6.1 6.6 6.2
15–19 12.0 10.6 9.4 7.6 8.2 6.6 7.0 6.5
20–24 9.9 9.8 9.3 8.4 7.2 6.3 7.2 6.3
25–29 7.4 7.8 9.0 9.1 6.8 6.1 7.8 7.5
30–34 5.7 6.1 7.7 8.4 6.6 5.8 7.6 7.2
35–39 4.5 5.1 5.3 5.7 6.5 5.8 7.0 6.8
40–44 5.6 6.6 7.0 6.7 6.4 6.6 6.5 6.7
45–49 4.9 6.0 6.1 6.1 6.8 7.7 6.8 7.0
50–54 4.6 6.1 5.4 5.6 6.7 8.1 6.8 7.4
55–59 3.1 4.3 3.8 4.5 5.8 7.4 6.5 7.3
60–64 2.3 2.8 2.3 2.7 4.7 6.1 5.4 6.1
65–69 2.3 2.9 2.5 3.4 3.5 4.8 3.3 3.7
70–74 1.8 2.9 2.2 3.0 3.9 5.7 3.8 4.0
75 i v. 2.2 3.8 3.2 3.7 2.5 3.8 2.6 3.0
80–84 1.5 2.4 1.5 1.7
0.6 1.2 0.8 0.9
Source of data: National Bureau of Statistics, 1981, Census of the population, households and apart-
ments in 1981; Results by settlements and municipalities, Titograd; Monstat- Bureau of Statistics,
2011: chart O21 – age of the population by municipalities.
Coastal region in 1981, as well as back in the 60s, had the oldest population
in Montenegro because of the lowest rates of natural increase and low immigration
inux. Percentage of the young people in the coastal region was at the lowest at the
regional level in 1981 – 32%, and old people with 12.8% at the most, with the age
index of 0.40, thus, the population was in the stage of the threshold of the demo-
graphic old age. The oldest population in this region was located mainly in Kotor
municipality. In the meantime, the migrations toward this region had strengthened,
culminating in the 90s, which resulted in slowing the ageing process, and so the
region was in the stage of demographic old age with the age index of 0.80 and an
average age of 38.3 years. Most unfavourable age structure has the municipality
of Herceg Novi, with an average age of 40 years and other parameters typical of
the population in a deep demographic old age.
Fig. 3. Population of the municipalities in Montenegro in 1981 according to the stages of the de-
Fig. 4. Population of the municipalities in Montenegro in 2011 according to the stages of the de-
Nowadays, the main characteristic of the population in the regions of Monte-
negro is the demographic old age, which will, in some regions before, and in some
later, transited into the stage of the deep, and then the deepest demographic old
age (northern region). Apart from a smaller natural population regeneration, due to
the negative or very low natural increase, a signicant impact on accelerating the
ageing of the population in the north, and largely a part of the central region of the
country, have the migrations towards the central or coastal area, or even outside of
Montenegro. Migrations out of the state border are also present in the central and
coastal region, but they are compensated for with the inux of population from
Northeast and Northern region and parts of the Central region.
The youngest population in Montenegro in 2011 also belonged to the munici-
pality of Rozaje, which was in the stage of the threshold of the demographic old
age (Fig. 4). Population of 9 municipalities was in the stage of the demographic
old age, and the population of 2 municipalities was at the transition from the
demographic old age into the deep demographic old age. In the stage of the deep
demographic old age is the population of 5 municipalities: Andrijevica, Kolasin,
Pljevlja, Herceg Novi and Kotor. On the transition from the deep into the deepest
demographic old age is the population of Cetinje and in the deepest demographic
old age is the population of 3 municipalities in the northern region: Pluzine, Savnik
and Zabljak. Pluzine has the most unfavourable age structure with the percentage
of young people with 20.2%, old people with 29.1%, and people under the age of
40 with 41.9% with the age index of 1.44 and the index of the age-dependence of
45.5% and the average age of the population of 43.7 years, and is therefore faced
with demographic extinction.
Consequences of demographic ageing and possibilities for its prevention. There
are multiple consequences of the demographic ageing:
– Slowed down growth of the population in the mid-period between the two
censuses (2003–2011) – population has increased with 5631 people, signicantly
decreased in the North;
– Due to the decreasing percentage of young generations in the total popula-
tion, there are declining birth rates, which leads to further ageing of the population;
– Due to an increased percentage of the old population, the death rate is in-
creasing especially in rural areas where mainly old people live;
– Besides, a major problem in rural areas is the increasing percentage of the
labour shortage, which gives pessimistic forecasts for the realisation of the revitali-
sation of agricultural production as one of the strategic objectives of national policy;
– Negative changes are occurring, which leads to the ageing of the labour-
contingent, and further to its decline;
– Also, there is a disproportion between the active population and the number
of pensioners, increasing the burden on the active population;
– The North of Montenegro is, due to the uneven spatial distribution of the
population particularly at risk, and if the ageing of the population of these areas
isn’t resolved soon, north region will soon be not only in the phase of the deepest
demographic old age, but will face a serious problem of a large number of settle-
ments without inhabitants;
– It should be noted that the municipality of Cetinje in the central region is at
risk because, according to the results of the last census in 2011, it had as many as
9 settlements without inhabitants.
In order to alleviate the consequences of ageing, the state would have to carry
out pro-natalistic demographical population policy, which would, in the best pos-
sible way, in due course solve the problem, and not only that of ageing, but also
the disproportion of the percentage of certain age groups of the population. This
would increase the base for further reproduction. Moreover, the possibilities of
combining this policy with the redistributive population policy should also be
considered. This would reduce the pressure put on the capital – Podgorica, where
resides 1/3 of the entire population of Montenegro, as well as the coastal region
which has the largest population density in Montenegro.
The period from the second half of the last century and the beginning of this century
was marked by the ageing of population of Montenegro, which, in a short period,
from the stage of demographic maturity came to the entering stage of profound
demographic age. Three regions of the state are at the stage of demographic ageing
and the North is at the stage of profound demographic age, in which there are three
out of the six municipalities that are in the deepest stage of demographic ageing.
Those are the municipalities of Durmitor region: Savnik, Zabljak and Pluzine –
which have the oldest population in Montenegro. Apart from them, the municipality
of Cetinje is at the transition to the deepest stage of demographic ageing.
The consequences of population ageing are numerous and far-reaching, and
they lead to total depopulation and demographic extinction, this primarily refers
to rural areas.
The ageing of the population will almost certainly impose additional scal
burdens on the public sector, especially for health and long-term care. However,
health care costs and their rate of growth depend only partly on demographic
forces; they depend much more on political decision-making15.
The adverse trends in demographics will continue to accelerate over the next
decades. Population ageing will continue in interaction with total depopulation.
There will be a further increase in imbalance in the proportion of large age groups.
In order to mitigate the consequences and slow down or stop the ageing of
population, the state would have to conduct demographic and population policy,
of which pronatal would be most acceptable, because it would give the best results
with long-term character.
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Received 27 July 2017
Revised 21 August 2017