Nationalism and Declining Population in Bulgaria after 1990

  • Tatyana Kotzeva Institute for Population and Human Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia; Burgas Free University, Burgas. Bulgaria
  • Elitsa Dimitrova Institute for Population and Human Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Sofia, Bulgaria
Keywords: Nationalism, Population decline, Ethnic minorities, Roma, Bulgaria, Qualitative content analysis, Thematic analysis


This paper aims to illuminate and provide a critical assessment of the nationalist discourse on declining population in Bulgaria. Nationalist discourse is one of the mainstream approaches in Bulgaria and is widely spread through mass media having been voiced by renowned intellectuals, policy experts, scholars and media celebrities. It can be recognised in the political programmes of left-wing and nationalist parties, but also in governmental documents at both national as well as regional levels. The nationalistically oriented advocates articulate current concerns regarding the declining birth rates and declining population in the country labelling the demographic situation as “Bulgarian national catastrophe” and “Bulgaria’s collapse”. They place an emphasis on the decreasing proportion of ethnic Bulgarians and the growth of the ethnic minorities, especially Roma. The latter trend was labelled by the derogatory term “gypsyisation”, i.e. a distortion of the Bulgarian nation and shrinkage of its core ethnicity – ethnic Bulgarians. The threat of the “gypsyisation” of the Bulgarian nation has not only been viewed in quantitative terms, but also through the lens of an alleged worsening of the national human capital (e.g. level of education, professional skills and civic culture of the population). Another set of arguments exploited in the nationalist discourse is the diminishing size of the Bulgarian nation as a threat to national sovereignty, territorial unity and economic stability. We use a qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis of media textual materials in order to reconstruct the main ideas, arguments and strategies of the proponents of the nationalist discourse regarding the consequences of the declining population in Bulgaria, its social policy implications and future demographic prospects.
How to Cite
Kotzeva, T. and Dimitrova, E. 2014. Nationalism and Declining Population in Bulgaria after 1990. Comparative Population Studies. 39, 4 (Nov. 2014). DOI:
Research Articles