Volume 16 (1998)

The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the State:
The Case of Yugoslavia
Časlav Ocić

The Nature and the Scope of the Regional Problem
Regional Policies and Changes in the Institutional Framework
Regional Development Levels: Grouping of Regions
Structural Change: Shift-Share Analysis
Efficiency: Shift-Share Analysis
Interregional Relations: Autarky
Some Other Results of the Regions' Development
Regional Development Costs: Ratios of Investment
Interregional Income (Re)distribution
Regional Convergence or Divergence?
Equality: The Failure of the Positive Discrimination Model
"The National Question" and Nationalism
Separatism: Economic and Political
A Long Journey from Utopia to Dystopia
Selected Bibliography
Data Sources & Documents
Appendix  (1)  (2)

The Nature and the Scope of the Regional Problem

The regional problem in the second Yugoslavia (1945-1990) was never a question of economic disparities only: it was interrelated with the national question and the question of the organization of the state. It also reflected various historical influences and the resultant mixture of different cultural patterns.1
In Yugoslavia, official definition of the magnitude of the regional problem resulted from the interaction of the regional power configuration, economic interests, political will and the ruling ideological postulates. Thus the status of underdevelopment and the volume of transfers were determined by (unlimited) aspirations, on the one hand, and (limited) possibilities, on the other.
"Official"proportions of the regional problem in Yugoslavia (in terms of the underdevelopment status received by some republics and provinces) did not reflect the real situation since the boundaries of underdevelopment did not coincide with the boundaries of the republics and the provinces.2 Nevertheless, Yugoslav regional policy stubbornly persisted with the simplified dichotomy of economically developed and underdeveloped republics and provinces (which was never based on the real situation). The consequence was that the share of the Yugoslav population living in the regions which almost throughout the postwar period were classified as underdeveloped (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo-Metohia) grew from 30.57% in 1948, to 33.84% in 1965, to 40.23% in 1990.
Judging from these facts only, Yugoslav regional policy -which disregarding the interdependent development of all regions (particularly after 1965) was confined to one specific aspect of regional development, to the development of less developed regions - was unsuccessful because it did not help decrease the number of people living in the conditions of underdevelopment but led to its increase. The point is that regions of underdevelopment had been rigidly and roughly defined: regional policy clashed with the real proportions of the regional problem, which is clearly shown by the above data on the population dynamics in such imprecisely defined underdeveloped regions. A more realistic approach with municipalities as units of observation shows that development was spatially dispersed, namely that in reality there were no large compact underdeveloped regions, quite contrary to the basic premise of the official regional policy.
Occasional attempts,3 from 1945 to 1974, at regionalizing Yugoslavia in order to promote both its overall and regional development did not bear fruit. With the exception of the 1961-1965 period, republics and provinces or, to be precise, the underdeveloped republics and provinces, were the focus of attention on the Yugoslav level.