Although the latest census shows that all Croatian counties, including the City of Zagreb, have fewer residents than 10 years ago, the number of persons with health insurance in Croatia still exceeds the number of its residents by 209,000 and the number of voters exceeds the number of adults.
According to the first results of the 1021 census, Croatia has a maximum of 3,888,529 residents while on 3 January 2022 it had as many as 4,097,903 persons with health insurance, says the Večernji List daily of Sunday.
After the census, it will also be necessary to make order in the voter register, which contains the names of 3,690,623 persons of age, which is impossible given the country’s existing number of residents and the fact that according to the national statistical office’s estimates in 2020, there were more than 700,000 young people in Croatia.
Demographers had previously warned of the long-lasting problem of fictitious health plan beneficiaries, noting that those were most probably Croatian nationals – ethnic Serbs who had left Croatia, Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatians who had emigrated without having cancelled their health insurance, as well as foreign nationals who own real estate on the coast.
There are no precise estimates as to how many of those beneficiaries who do not reside in Croatia use “free” health services and how many of them are emigrants and people only formally registered with the Croatian Health Insurance Institute but the problem should now be solved, notably following the introduction of population registers that exist in most EU countries. The EU has recommended that member countries compile population registers by the end of this year.
Even though the first results of the 2021 census do not leave any reason for optimism, it is worthwhile noting that in addition to the only county seat, Čakovec, there are still smaller cities, as well as large and small municipalities, whose population size has increased over the past ten years. Those are, among others, Solin, Sveta Nedelja, Dugo Selo, Krk and Biograd na Moru.
Of the municipalities whose population has increased, those are primarily large municipalities – Viškovo near Rijeka, Podstrana near Split, and Župa Dubrovačka and Konavle in the south of Dalmatia.
As for municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, compared to 2011 the number of residents has increased also in Poličnik, Sukošan, Pakoštane and Galovac, municipalities in the area of Zadar, Dugopolje and Bol on the island of Brač, municipalities close to Split, Omišalj and Malinska – Dubašnica on the island of Krk, Bilice near Šibenik, Tar – Vabriga in Istria County, and Orehovica in Međimurje County.
Another positive example is Vis, the island farthest from the mainland that over the past ten years has lost only seven inhabitants, owing to its consistent and comprehensive demographic policy. The remote municipality of Baška on the island of Krk, which has a proactive demographic policy, has lost only one resident in the past ten years, Večernji List says.
According to the Jutarnji List daily of Sunday, the results of the 2021 census will also have an effect on the number of councillors in local bodies of representation.
In the next local elections, in 2025 and 2029, voters will elect 352 fewer councillors in local bodies of representation, as a result of the fact that the latest census shows that Croatia’s population has shrunk by almost 10% compared to 2011.
Under the Act on Local and Regional Government Units, the number of councillors in local representative bodies is determined on the basis of the number of residents in individual counties, cities and municipalities.