Gabrovo ranks second in Bulgaria in both economic and social development after Sofia (capital city). The district ranks fifth in GDP per capita, incomes in the district are higher than the national average, and salaries have been rising at a stable rate. For the fifth consecutive year, the municipalities in the district have utilized the greatest amount of EU funds per capita in comparison with all other districts. Gabrovo is one of the districts where electronic government and administrative onestop shop services are relatively well developed, and municipal administrations are rated relatively high for transparency.
The demographic situation in the district is rapidly deteriorating. Education and healthcare indicators show an overall good condition of these sectors in the district. Judges have relatively low workloads, which contributes to speedy justice administration. The rate of solved crimes is higher than the national average. Visits to cinemas, theatres, museums, and libraries place Gabrovo second in the country in terms of cultural life intensity – immediately after the capital.
After the crisis began, Gabrovo’s GDP was about 1 bln BGN. Because of the rapid deterioration of the demographic picture in the district, GDP per capita rose steadily after 2010, and in 2014 Gabrovo took the fifth place in the country with a GDP per capita of 9,804 BGN. In 2015, incomes in the district rose to reach 5,102 BGN per household member, which was above the national average of 4,953 BGN. Again, for reasons connected with demographic processes, household income structure showed a share of pensions in household incomes larger than the national average as well as a lower share of salaries. Salaries of employed people in the district also rose but in 2014 they were still below the national average.
In 2015, Gabrovo was again among the districts with the population’s economic activity at its highest: 73.0% vs. the national average of 69.3%. After four years of growth, the rate of employment in Gabrovo reached 67.4% (vs. 62.9% nationwide), which was the third highest rate in Bulgaria after Sofia and Varna. The positive trends in the district’s labor market were complemented by the falling unemployment rates. In 2015, unemployment fell to 7.5% (vs. 9.1% for the country). The share of working age people with higher education in the district is close to the country average: 26.8 and 27.5%, respectively, but the share of people with primary or lower education in 2015 was much below the country average figure (11.3% vs. 18.1%). This partially explains the high levels of economic activity and employment in the district. As a result of the ongoing demographic processes the district shows the second worst ratio of demographic replacement (the ratio between the population aged 15 to 19 to that aged 60 to 64): in 2015, it was 48.1% vs. 63.5% for the country. This means that for every 100 people about to leave the labor market in the coming few years there are only 48 young people about to join it.
Unemployment rate of the population aged 15-64 (annual average) (2015)
In 2014, FTA acquisition expenditure in the district rose considerably and was almost equal to the national average figures relative to the population. As of the end of 2014, foreign direct investment in non-financial enterprises in the district reached 265 m euro or 2,299.9 euro per capita vs. 3,006.6 euro per capita for the country. Municipalities in the district have utilized the greatest amount of EU funds per capita for the fifth successive year. As of 31 May 2016, the sums paid to municipalities as beneficiaries of operational programs in the district amounted to 1,443.8 BGN per capita, which is twice the national average level of 688.8 BGN per capita. The municipalities of Gabrovo (2,046.6 BGN per capita) and Tryavna (1,315.2 BGN per capita) utilized the greatest amount of funds, whereas that of Dryanovo utilized the least amount of EU funds – 242.3 BGN per capita.
Number of non-financial companies per 1,000 people (2014)
The density of the road and railway networks in the district is higher than the national average. At the same time, the share of first class roads in it is relatively low. In 2015, after rising for five years in succession, the share of road surfaces in good condition reached 42.2% (vs. the national average share of 40.7%). The number of people who have access to the internet and use it is relatively small. In 2015, households with internet access in the district of Gabrovo made up 49.4% (vs. 59.1% for the country). The share of people aged 16 to 74 who had used the internet in the previous year was 54.8% (vs. 60.3% in the country).
The relatively low local taxes and fees in the district’s municipalities place the district among those with the best taxing conditions. In 2016, the municipality of Sevlievo raised the rates for the four monitored taxes, while that of Gabrovo raised the rate of the vehicle (74–110 kW) tax. The waste disposal fee for immovable property of legal entities did not change and the district average figure remained twice lower than the national one. The rates of the annual license tax for retailers were also considerably lower.
The development of electronic government and one-stop shop administrative services in Gabrovo was better compared to the country average level in 2016. The district also had some of the highest ratings in the Local Integrity Index of Transparency International and the rating of active transparency of local authorities of the AIP Foundation. In 2016, the active transparency rating of local government in Gabrovo district was 61.3% compared to 54.2% for the country as a whole. All four municipalities in the district were rated above 50%, while the municipality of Sevlievo got the highest rate of 65.6%. Cadastral map coverage of the district’s territory did not increase in 2015, yet it remained above the national average. A little over 1/5 of the territory was covered by cadastral maps.
Share of territory included in cadastral map (2015)
After a rapid deterioration of the demographic picture in the district in recent years, Gabrovo overtook Vidin in becoming the district with the highest age replacement ratio (the ratio of people aged 65+ to those aged 0 to 14). In 2015, it reached 242.1% vs. the national average of 146.4%. The natural growth rate fell to –12.5‰, which is twice lower than the national average of –6.2‰. Besides, the age dependency ratio (the ratio of the population aged 65+ to that aged 0 to 14) in the district of Gabrovo was the second highest in the country after that of Vidin. Gabrovo is also among the districts with the lowest net migration rate: in 2015, it reached –5.5‰. The majority of the population is concentrated in towns: 81.8% compared to the national average of 73.1%. However, population density in the district is still lower than the national average.
In 2015, the enrolment rate of the population in 5th–8th grade rose to 78.7%, thus exceeding the national average of 78.3%, which, on its part, declined in comparison to 2014. The shares of repeaters and dropouts in primary and secondary school in the district remain below the country average. In 2015, 0.8% of students in primary and secondary education in Gabrovo dropped out, whereas 2.2% repeated the school year in 2014. School leavers in the district did relatively well at matriculation exams in Bulgarian language and literature in 2016. Gabrovo is one of the districts with a relatively lower share of failing grades. The average grades went down but stayed close to the country average figure. Gabrovo is one of the few districts where the number of college and university students has been on the rise during the last few years. In 2015, it reached 6,612, which makes 57 students per 1,000 people vs. the national average of 36 students per 1,000 people.
Students in colleges and universities 1000 people (2015)
The rate of general practitioners to the population is higher in Gabrovo district compared to the rest of the country. In 2015, there were 1,517 people per GP in Gabrovo vs. 1,619 in the country, as well as 489 people per medical specialist in Gabrovo vs. 544 on average in the country. Gabrovo is also among the districts with the highest percentage of health-insured people. In 2015, it rose to 95.5% (vs. 88.8% in the country). The number of hospital beds relative to the population is also high. In 2015, there were 5.3 beds per 1,000 persons, while nationally there were 4.6 beds. The relatively easy access of the population to doctors and hospital treatment determines the great number of hospitalizations, that is, the population relies on healthcare inside the district. Infant mortality rates were among the lowest in Bulgaria in 2015.
The workloads of judges in Gabrovo district have been relatively low, hence the relatively speedy administration of justice in 2015. The share of criminal cases closed within three months was 95.0% vs. 88.1% for the country, the share of pending cases was 6.2 and 9.4%, respectively. In 2015, the number of registered crimes against the person and property rose slightly after a downward trend that had lasted for several years, but remained close to the average for Bulgaria relative to the population: 13.5 per 1,000 people in the district and 13.6 per 1,000 people in the country. Despite the commensurate rate of registered crimes in Gabrovo and the country, in 2015 the clearance crime rate in Gabrovo was higher than the country average: 51.2% vs. 39.2%, respectively.
Share of criminal cases closed in the first 3 months (2015)
As Gabrovo is a district with predominantly urbanized population and high economic development, a relatively large part of the population lives in areas with access to public sewerage (85.2% vs. 74.9% national average) and to sewerage connected to a WWTP (66.8% for the district vs. 56.8% for the country) in 2014. Besides, Gabrovo is one of the districts with the lowest level of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere: 31.0 t harmful emissions per sq. km in 2014, which is ten times lower than the national average of 314.5 t/sq. km.
Household waste generated per capita of serviced population (2014)
In 2015, the district once again ranked first in museum visits per 1,000 people with almost 350,000 total visits or 2,979 per 1,000 people, whereas the country average was 664 per 1,000 people. The theatres in the district also succeeded in attracting a greater number of people than the national average. In 2015, 43,000 theatre visits were registered, which makes 370 per 1,000 people (vs. 302 per 1,000 people nationwide). In 2015, library visits rose in the district of Gabrovo, exceeding the national average figures relative to the population. Cinema visits rose to reach 379 per 1,000 people, but were still twice fewer than the national average. On the whole, Gabrovo ranks second in the country in terms of intensity of cultural life, immediately after Sofia (capital city).
Number of visits to cinemas per 1,000 people of the average annual population (2015)