Decision makers and researchers from various fields have focused on recognizing the most important problems in rural areas creating risks for poverty and social exclusion. It was particularly interesting to note the way different risks combine, creating (manifold) exclusion and deprivation threats, as it was to identify social groups at greatest risk from poverty and social exclusion.
The survey was conducted on a sample of 1621 households. The sample was created in keeping with OECD standards for defining rural areas, which means that the sample excluded the territorial units meeting following three criteria:
• with a population density over 150 inhabitants per km2,
• with a share of population living in urban settlements 50% or more and
• having a big administrative centre (over 20 000 inhabitants).
As the definition of rural areas is new, the image of rural Serbia in terms of social exclusion and poverty is new as well, and is different than one where rural and non-urban regions are equated, with both defined by local statistics as “other”. Moreover, methodology for measuring poverty was aligned with EU methodology, which means poverty was measured from the aspect of income instead of spending. The following social exclusion dimensions were included: financial poverty and material deprivation, economic aspects of exclusion in the context of agricultural production for the market and employment options in non-agricultural sectors, access to social services, social and cultural participation of rural groups.
Findings were presented in the Study and send out a strong warning on the poor condition of rural areas, from various aspects, as well as the necessity of developing and implementing more efficient programs in Serbia. Recommendations were formulated for improving or implementing measures to increase social inclusion of rural groups, consequently promoting rural development as a significant component of sustainable development in Serbia.