Yugoslavia - Poverty and wealth
Before 1991, Serbs and Montenegrins enjoyed a comparatively prosperous life, and their access to information, travel, and work abroad was easier than in most Eastern European countries. As a socialist economy, old Yugoslavia was generally more egalitarian than Western European countries. During the 1990s, as the economy collapsed, the majority of Serbs grew desperately poor. Average salaries in Serbia hit the bottom at US$40 per month in 2000. Payments to employees on state payrolls—health workers, teachers, soldiers, police, and pensioners
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|Note: Data are estimates.|
|SOURCE: Handbook of the Nations , 17th,18th, 19th and 20theditions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.|
—were months overdue. The 1999 bombing of major cities led to many casualties and devastation. Health, education, and welfare were also seriously jeopardized, and energy shortages plagued the people. Widespread indignation fueled the mass protests of 1996 and the popular uprising that finally toppled Milosevic in October 2000.
At the same time, many members of Milosevic's inner circle amassed—through nepotism, corruption, and smuggling—largely illegitimate fortunes that the new government will work to recover from foreign bank accounts. The dictator's notorious playboy son, Marko, was particularly resented, and as soon as his father was out of office, many assets of his self-styled business empire were looted and burned by angry crowds.