The Myth of Yugoslavia's Heroic Rise from the Ashes

We often hear the story of how the former Yugoslavia heroically "rose from the ashes" after World War II. But, it is difficult to give an assessment of this story if we don't know how other countries "rose from the ashes." So, I compared the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of some countries that, in the late forties of the last century, had approximately the same GDP as Yugoslavia at that time. Let's see what the historical data show. The data tell us that all the countries that are shown here, except for Hungary and Bulgaria, had significantly higher growth of GDP per capita than Yugoslavia between 1947 and in 1989. So, maybe it is true that Yugoslavia heroically rose from the ashes, but it seems that Japan, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, and Spain rose from the ashes much more heroically.[1] On the other hand, Hungary and Bulgaria show a similar slow growth in GDP to that of Yugoslavia. Other than noticing that Hungary and Bulgaria had similar economic systems as Yugoslavia, unlike the other countries shown here, I would not go into a further analysis of the difference in speed of "rising from the ashes." However, it may be time to revise our beliefs about the "heroic achievements" of our former homeland.


[1] One might argue that this difference may be a result of the western European countries receiving aid from the US under the Marshall Plan, but we need to keep in mind that the reparations for war damages received by Yugoslavia far exceed the total amount of aid received by all of the European countries together under the Marshall Plan.  


  1. Thanks, Miloš! I hope you'll enjoy your stay here.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts