Serbs - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The pre-World War II economy was based primarily on subsistence agriculture with a concentration on wheat and maize. Oats and barley are grown as market crops. Raising of pigs, cattle, and sheep was also important. Postwar modernization and urbanization have resulted in decreased dependence on agriculture. Most rural households have a diversified economic base that includes at least some wage earning. Some Serbian males (Between 4 and 5 percent) work outside the country, predominantly in western European industry. The former Yugoslavia as a whole was noted for its labor policy of worker self-management.

A typical diet historically consisted primarily of bread and a variety of stews in a lard base. Fruits and vegetables were normally available on a seasonal basis. Lamb was Reserved for holidays and other festivities. Cheese is made and eaten, but milk is rarely drunk. (Kefir is more common.) An important change over the last few decades has been the switch to the use of sunflower oil in cooking.

Industrial Arts. Many people engage in part-time craft-work, particularly in the manufacture of wood and metal utensils, tools, and furniture.

Trade. In addition to Western-style stores and shopping centers, open-air markets ( pijaca ) with an array of fresh meats and produce, as well as handicrafts, are common.

Division of Labor. An emerging social pattern is the socalled "feminization" of agriculture as households with male factory workers maintain a diversified resource base. Previously, labor tended to be divided into inside (female) and outside (male) activities. For example, baking, cheese making, weaving, cleaning, and washing were almost exclusively female jobs while chopping wood and most agricultural tasks were men's work. In urban areas, a similar pattern of women working outside the household also has emerged.

Land Tenure. Despite a Socialist government, the vast majority of land is held privately. Attempts in the late 1940s and early 1950s to socialize landholdings met with staunch peasant resistance and were eventually abandoned. Although a few large collectives remain, most peasants continue to work their own land. Current law limits private holdings to 10 hectares, but contiguous holdings by different family Members often allow joint working of larger parcels. Recently, the government has made some attempts to develop plans for reorganizing private holdings, which have become increasingly fragmented, into more productive integrated holdings. This attempt has been poorly received.

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