What are the Russians up to? Will Bosnia fall to pieces? Will Serbia and Kosovo exchange territories? What is the state of European integration for the Western Balkans? These are amongst the topics that analysts love to mull over when considering the Balkans. But actually, the single biggest problem,facing governments in the wider region from Croatia to Moldova is shrinking population. These problems are not unique to the Balkans but the data shows that it is mostly worse than elsewhere. By 2050, at current rates, Bulgaria’s already shrunken population will be 23.4% smaller than it is today, Serbia's 17.6%, Croatia's 17.3% and so on. What does this all mean? From Cluj to Croatia employers can't find enough workers. The statistics show that it will take decades for Balkan countries to converge economically with Western ones but, at this rate of emigration and falling populations, it will never happen. In the short-term governments are happy because emigration reduces unemployment and migrants send home remittances. But in the longer term, migration means that people will never come back. They want to see decent perspectives for their children including good healthcare and education. However, the more people that go abroad, the smaller is the tax base left behind to improve them. What does all this mean? Migration is already dividing the EU, but this type of migration, certainly one factor among many in the Brexit decision, might make the region a giant social security case forever.