Which Are the Poorest Countries in Europe in 2024?

Europe is a wealthy continent that is home to some of the most developed nations on the planet in terms of both economic expansion and human development. Still, there are significant differences within the region’s borders. The war between Russia and Ukraine, which also disrupts trade, has an impact on the entire European economy. Let’s dig deep into the details of the poorest countries in Europe and explore their GDP, economic growth, and international rankings. 

List of 10 Poor Countries in Europe 

  • Ukraine
  • Moldova
  • North Macedonia
  • Albania
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Russia
  • Bulgaria

1- Ukraine

Ukraine is currently facing significant economic challenges that have contributed to its status as the poorest country in Europe in 2024. GDP per capita in Ukraine is $5,663 in 2024, significantly lower than the European average. This is largely due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has disrupted economic activity and investment in the country. 

Unemployment rates in Ukraine have also remained high, with the latest figures showing an unemployment rate of around 10%. This is partly due to the uneven distribution of wealth and resources in the country, with a small elite benefiting disproportionately from the country’s economic activities.

Economic growth rates in Ukraine have been relatively static in recent years, with the country’s GDP growth rate estimated at around 2% in 2024. This slow growth has made it difficult for the country to catch up to its European neighbors and improve the living standards of its citizens.

Ukraine’s ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of a country’s overall development, has also remained relatively low, with the country ranked around 100th out of 193 countries in 2024. This reflects the country’s challenges in areas such as education, healthcare, and overall quality of life.

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2- Moldova

Moldova is currently the second poorest country in Europe as of 2024. GDP per capita in Moldova is estimated to be around $7,488 in 2024. This is partly a result of the country’s reliance on agriculture and remittances from Moldovans working abroad, which have been impacted by the spillover effects of the war in Ukraine.

Unemployment rates in Moldova have remained high, with the latest figures showing an unemployment rate of around 7%. Income inequality is another major issue in Moldova and Economic growth rates have also been relatively below average in recent years, with the country’s GDP growth rate estimated at around 2.6% in 2024. 

The Human Development Index (HDI) of Moldova for 2024 is 0.767, placing the country in 86th out of 193 countries. This index measures national progress in health, education, and living standards. 

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3- North Macedonia

North Macedonia’s position as the third poorest country in Europe in 2024 is influenced by economic, social, and developmental challenges that have jeopardized its progress and prosperity.

North Macedonia’s GDP per capita is relatively low, standing at around $9,529 in 2024. The country also grapples with persistently high unemployment rates, with recent data showing an unemployment rate of approximately 14.5%.

North Macedonia has experienced modest economic growth, with a 1.6% expansion in the economy in the latter part of 2023. North Macedonia is ranked 78th out of 189 countries in the 2024 Human Development Index, with a score of 0.770. 

This ranking reflects a slight decline from previous years and underscores the importance of addressing key development indicators related to health, education, and living standards.

4- Albania

Albania, a country located in the Balkan Peninsula, has been struggling with economic challenges. Albania’s GDP is estimated to be around $59 billion. The GDP per capita is $8,924 in 2024.

The unemployment rate in Albania has been a persistent issue, with an average rate of 12.90% from March 2012 to September 2023. The rate dropped to 10.54% in September 2023, but it remains a concern for the government and the economy. 

Albania’s economic growth rate has been moderate, with an average annual growth rate of 2.7% over the last decade. The country’s long-term economic growth rate is projected to trend around 0.50% in 2025 and 0.40% in 2026. 

Albania’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking has been declining in recent years. In 2020, the country ranked 67th out of 189 countries, with a score of 0.796. Albania’s low ranking also reflects the country’s challenges in providing quality education and healthcare to its citizens. 

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5- Belarus 

Belarus’s GDP is estimated to be around $252 billion and GDP per capita is $7,557 in 2024. The unemployment rate in Belarus is another reason behind its poverty, with an average rate of 0.70% from October 2004 to February 2024. The rate dropped to 0.10% in February 2024.

The economy of Belarus has grown at an average level over the past ten years with an average of 2.34% annually. The country’s economic growth expanded by 3.90% in 2023, following a 4.70% contraction in 2022. 

Belarus’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking has been declining in recent years. In 2020, the country ranked 69th out of 193 countries. The country needs to focus on creating more job opportunities, reducing income inequality, and improving its economic growth rates. 

6-Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country in the Balkans, is one of the poorest countries in Europe. This precarious situation can be attributed to a confluence of factors, including GDP per capita, unemployment rate, economic growth rates, and Human Development Index rankings.

According to the latest projections, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s GDP per capita is $9,029. In the first quarter of 2024, Bosnia and Herzegovina reported an unemployment rate of 16.9%. This rate indicates a substantial portion of the population facing difficulties in securing stable employment. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economic growth rates have been even worse. Its economy expanded by around 3% in recent years but Factors such as geopolitical tensions, supply chain disruptions, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the country’s economic volatility.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking has seen a decline in recent years, with the country placed 75th out of 203 countries in 2021. The country continues to face significant hurdles in reducing unemployment, achieving sustained economic growth, and improving the overall well-being of its population.

7- Serbia

Serbia, with a population of 6.664 million people, is regarded as one of the poorest countries in Europe in terms of GDP per capita, but it is not the poorest.

In 2024, Serbia’s GDP per capita is $12,388. While this is relatively low compared to other European countries, it is higher than the poorest countries in Europe, such as Ukraine and Moldova.

Serbia’s unemployment rate reached a historic low of 8.9% in 2021, despite an increase in the size of the labor force to 55% in recent years. This is a significant improvement from the country’s economic struggles in the past. 

Serbia’s baseline economic growth rate is expected to reach 3.5% in 2024. In terms of the Human Development Index, the Country ranked 65th out of 193 countries with a score of 0.805 in 2022. 

8- Montenegro

Montenegro, with a population of 617,213 people, is considered the 8th poorest country in Europe. Montenegro’s GDP per capita is 12,297 in 2024 and is forecasted to be around 13,087 in 2025.

Montenegro’s unemployment rate has also been extremely low recently, with a historic low of 8.9% in 2021. The World Bank announced that it is increasing its estimate of Montenegro’s economic growth to 3.4% in 2024 from the previous 3.2% expansion.

In terms of human development, Montenegro maintains its position among the category of countries with very high human development, ranking 49th out of 189 countries. 

According to the World Bank data, the poverty headcount ratio at the national poverty line was 21.2% in 2020 and it’s projected to decline by 1.5 percentage points from 2023 to 7.5% in 2026.  

9-Russia

As of 2024, Russia’s economy has been defined by a moderate GDP per person, a steady decline in poverty, continued attempts to lower unemployment, and an emphasis on raising human development metrics. GDP per Capita in Russia is expected to reach $10,281 by the end of 2024, $10,445 in 2025, and $10,592 in 2026. 

The unemployment rate in Russia is a concern, with a forecasted rate of 3.14% in 2024. Still, it represents a decline from the 5.01% unemployment rate recorded in 2021. However, challenges persist, especially in certain regions like the North Caucasian Federal District, where the unemployment rate was nearly 10% in the second quarter of 2023. 

Economic growth in Russia is expected to grow 3.2% in 2024. Real wage growth has also shown positive signs, with an almost 9% increase in real wages in January 2024 compared to the previous year.

Russia’s Human Development Index (HDI) score slightly decreased in 2021, positioning at 52nd place in the table of 191 countries, with a score of 0.822. 

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10- Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s economic situation in 2024 presents a complex scenario, with various indicators reflecting both progress and challenges. According to Stats, Bulgaria’s GDP per capita is $17,320 in 2024. The country has been working towards economic growth and stability.

The unemployment rate in Bulgaria is forecasted to be 4.40% in 2024 which indicates a relatively stable employment situation. With a peak labor force participation rate of 74.13% in 2022, Bulgaria demonstrated a highly engaged labor force.

Bulgaria’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.9% in 2024 and by 2.5% in 2025. On the other hand, Bulgaria’s Human Development Index (HDI) score has also shown improvement over the years. In 2021, it was placed at 68th place in the table of 191 countries with a score of 0.795. 

Conclusion 

The economic struggles of these 10 European countries show that each faces unique challenges due to history, politics, and regional dynamics. Poverty, infrastructure gaps, and income inequality are common issues. Yet, there are stories of resilience and innovation too. By addressing economic diversification, social welfare, and governance reforms collaboratively, there’s hope for improvement. 

FAQs

1- What is the Poorest Country in Europe in 2024?

The poorest country in Europe in 2024 is Ukraine.

2- What Happens if Ukraine Defaults?

If Ukraine defaults, there will be several international legal actions, as well as the seizure of Ukrainian foreign assets and reserves held in foreign institutions.

3- Which Country is Best to Earn Money in Europe?

The Netherlands is one of the best countries in Europe to earn money.

4- What job is Most in Demand in Europe?

The most in-demand jobs in Europe in 2024 are software developers and sales assistants. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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