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Statistics and Lies

Kosovo regions
Kosovo regions

Throughout the post Second World War years, Serbs emigrated from Kosovo. How many left and why became a central theme, says Judah, especially in the 1980s, in the evolving "battle of lies" between Serbs and Albanians. Serbs claimed harassment but there was also the pull factor of better jobs in Serbia proper and with better education for Kosovo Albanians far more competition for the remaining jobs in Kosovo:

According to the census returns, the number of Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo remained relatively stable, moving between 200,000 and 260,000 in the post-war period. What does change though is that their numbers, as a proportion of the population as a whole, dropped from a combined 27.5 per cent in 1948 to 14.9 per cent in 1981 and 10.9 per cent in 1991. This was not just due to Serb emigration, which in turn contributed to the lack of the natural growth of the population, but to the fact that the Albanian birth-rate was extremely high. Interestingly, if the 1991 census figures are a more or less accurate (a projection of the numbers of Albanians was made because they boycotted the census), then the Albanian proportion of the population was 82.2 per cent. This means that the oft-quoted figure of the Albanian population constituting 90 per cent of Kosovo's population was, until 1999 anyway, not true.

This question remains alive today. Since 1999 the Serbian authorities claim that some 230,000 Serbs (and some Roma,) have fled Kosovo and that some 130,000 remain. Those figures do not fit with the numbers of Serbs who, according to census returns lived in Kosovo before the war. So what is going on? The issue is important because the question of refugee returns is a central one in talks about Kosovo's future. We have done the only serious research on the question in a paper called The Lausanne Principle.

[p. 44]

Kosovo: War and Revenge. 2002, Second Edition. [Yale University Press]

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