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Yugoslavia: Social Groups
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Social Groups


Lake Bled, Slovenia - Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg


Harbor at Dubrovnik - Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg


Albanian man and boy in oda, traditional family room, Kosovo - Courtesy Chuck Sudetic

Although Yugoslavia's ethnic landscape remained relatively stable during the twentieth century, its socio-economic structure underwent especially profound changes after World War II. On the eve of that war, Yugoslavia was a predominantly agricultural land with slowly developing basic industries. Society's broad base was the peasantry, which made up over 80 percent of the population. The country had a minuscule working class; government bureaucrats and a few entrepreneurs, professionals, merchants, and artisans made up the elite. After World War II, Yugoslavia's communist rulers ordered rapid industrialization, and peasants left their farms in droves to fill industrial and office jobs in the cities. The communists brushed aside the prewar elite, nationalized about 80 percent of their property, and established a new class of government bureaucrats. For several decades, party membership and education were the keys to upward mobility in Yugoslav society. But the economic downturn of the 1970s and 1980s brought nagging unemployment and stifling bureaucracy that seriously impeded entry into the working and managing classes, even for educated and skilled individuals. Yugoslavia's immense postwar social transformation brought profound changes to the family structure, the lives of women, young people, and the elderly.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 54 of 208


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