Gremigration: 1.7 Mil. Left Greece in 20th/21st Centuries, Nearly 500K Since Crisis Onset

PHOTO: Public Domain

ATHENS – A report by the Bank of Greece (BG) titled “Fleeing Human Capital: Contemporary Migration Tendency of the Greeks in the Years of Crisis,” which was published in Kathimerini, reveals that 1,764,000 Greeks emigrated from the country in the 20th and 21st centuries, with more than 427,000 of them (ages 15 to 64) having left since the onset of the economic crisis six years ago.

The report compares the current situation with previous migration phases, analyzes the macroeconomic consequences and proposes solutions to deal with the phenomenon.

“Migration and poverty are undoubtedly the two most distressing consequences experienced by a society under the conditions of a protracted crisis,” Sophia Lazaretou, a BG economist and the author of the report, told Kathimerini. “In 2013, we see a tripling of the average from 2008, and the immigrants are more than 100,000 individuals, while according to all indications, the phenomenon continues with unabated intensity in 2014 and is further exacerbated during the first half of 2015.” As Lazaretou  told Kathimerini, the emigration of Greeks in search of employment abroad is still ongoing and when it will halt is unknown. What is certain is that this is the third mass migration known to the country.

In the last 100 years, the country has experienced two other very similar phases and three key features emerge from their comparative study. All three phases a) are long in duration, about ten years, b) have an increased intensity regarding the intensity of the flow, and c) have a delay in the onset of the phenomenon in relation to the time of the recording of high unemployment rates.

The periods of mass immigration of Greeks are from 1903 to 1917, 1960-1972, and 2010-present, and all three phases are associated with economic incentives, with the exception of the second wave during the years 1969-1971, which was due to political reasons (the junta dictatorship). “It is no coincidence that all three phases took place after an intense recessionary disturbance that widened the gap between our country and developed countries and fueled the exodus of people, mostly young people, seeking new opportunities and potential for progress,” Lazaretou told Kathimerini.

According to the report, what is interesting is the comparison of the two previous episodes with the current one regarding the qualitative characteristics. During the first flight incident, the main destinations were the “transoceanic countries” (the United States, Australia, Canada, Brazil and Southeast Africa).

Seven of ten emigrants were 15-44 years old, less than two in ten were women and the overwhelming majority was unskilled workers and farmers of a low educational level, who usually worked in the host countries as servants and laborers.

The second migration episode mainly concerned young people aged 20-34 (7 of 10), 5 out of 10 declared themselves manual laborers, while 4 out of 10 were unemployed. Six of 10 went to Germany and Belgium and were employed as industrial workers. In contrast, the current flight involves young, educated professionals who are heading mainly to Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.

Greece ranks fourth in the EU for the massiveness of its migration outflow and in regards to its proportion of the country’s workforce, after Cyprus, Ireland and Lithuania, and ranks third after Cyprus and Spain regarding the percentage of young emigrants.

Specifically, the outbound Greeks in 2013 alone represent more than 2% of the total workforce of the country, while the proportion of young people at the productive ages of 25-39 is more than 50% of all outbound individuals.

The report concluded with six recommendations to stop that trend.

 

 

 

1) a shift toward more productive sectors and the linking of education with production. A tool for redefining professions is the connection of higher education with productive specialization; 2) active support of startup businesses, such as creating meeting spaces for the young (61% of educated youth who participated in a survey by Endeavour Greece 2014 wish to work in the private sector, even with the same salary as the public sector, and 52% wish to be active in enterprise); 3) with emphasis on the values of excellence, transparency and meritocracy, the enactment, with both public and private sector support, periodic competitions with generous premiums, such as prizes and/or the subsidized hires of young Greek scientists; 4) widespread adoption of the institutions of apprenticeships and internships; 5) the creation of an enterprise-friendly environment, considering that Greece is one of the largest suppliers of scientists, engineers, and technology experts, one that reduces bureaucracy and adopts a business-friendly attitude; and 6) the reintegration of the younger generations to education and workplace skills.

The report by the Bank of Greece titled “Fleeing human capital: contemporary migration tendency of the Greeks in the years of crisis,” reveals for the first time the number of Greeks who left the country because of the crisis. Moreover, it compares the current situation with previous migration phases, analyzes the macroeconomic consequences and proposes solutions to deal with the phenomenon.

“Migration and poverty are undoubtedly the two most distressing consequences experienced by a society under the conditions of a protracted crisis,” Sophia Lazaretou, economist at the Bank of Greece and the author of the report told Kathimerini.

According to the statistics available to the Bank of Greece, the number of permanently outbound Greeks aged 15-64 years, from 2008 to date, exceeds 427,000. “In 2013, we see a tripling of the average from 2008, and the immigrants are more than 100,000 individuals, while according to all indications, the phenomenon continues with unabated intensity in 2014 and is further exacerbated during the first half of 2015.” As Lazaretou points out, the emigration of Greeks in search of employment abroad is still ongoing and when it will halt is unknown. What is certain is that this is the third mass migration known to the country.

In the last 100 years, the country has experienced two other very similar phases and three key features emerge from their comparative study. All three phases a) are long in duration, about ten years, b) have an increased intensity in regards to the intensity of the flow, and c) have a delay in the onset of the phenomenon in relation to the time of the recording of high unemployment rates.

The periods of mass immigration of Greeks are from 1903 to 1917, 1960-1972 and 2010-present and all three phases are associated with economic incentives, with the exception of the second wave during the years 1969-1971, which was due to political reasons (dictatorship). “It is no coincidence that all three phases took place after an intense recessionary disturbance that widened the gap between our country and developed countries and fueled the exodus of people, mostly young people, seeking new opportunities and potential for progress,” Lazaretou notes.

According to the report, what is interesting is the comparison of the two previous episodes with the current flight episode, in regards to the qualitative characteristics. During the first flight incident, the main destinations were the “transoceanic countries” (USA, Australia, Canada, Brazil and SE Africa).

Seven out of ten were aged 15-44 years, less than two out of 10 were women and the overwhelming majority was unskilled workers and farmers of a low educational level, who usually worked in the host countries as servants and laborers.

The second migration episode mainly concerned young people aged 20-34 (7 out of 10), 5 out of 10 declared themselves manual laborers, while 4 out of 10 were inactive. Six out of 10 went to Germany and Belgium and were employed as industrial workers. In contrast, the current flight involves young people educated with professional experience, who are heading mainly to Germany, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

Greece ranks fourth in the EU for the massiveness of its migration outflow and in regards to its proportion of the country’s workforce, after Cyprus, Ireland and Lithuania, and ranks third after Cyprus and Spain regarding the percentage of young emigrants.

 

Specifically, the outbound Greeks in 2013 alone represent more than 2% of the total workforce of the country, while the proportion of young people at the productive ages of 25-39 is more than 50% of all outbound individuals.

Proposals for containment of the phenomenon

The Bank of Greece report concludes with six recommendations aimed at halting the phenomenon.

First of all, it suggests a shift toward more productive sectors and the linking of education with production. A tool for redefining professions is the connection of higher education with productive specialization.

Secondly, it calls for the active support of start-up businesses, such as creating meeting spaces for the young. 61% of educated youth who participated in a survey by Endeavour Greece 2014 wishes to work in the private sector, even with the same salary as the public sector, and 52% wishes to be active in enterprise.

Third, it emphasizes the value of excellence, transparency and meritocracy. The carrying out, with the support of professional bodies and the state, of periodic competitions with a generous premium, such as prizes and/or the subsidizing of employers to hire young Greek scientists, can comprise the tangible proof to ensure meritocracy.

Fourthly, it emphasizes the need for widespread adoption of the institution of apprenticeships and internships.

Fifth, it encourages the creation of an enterprise-friendly environment. Based on the assessments of the competitiveness indicators of the World Economic Forum for 2015 and 2016, Greece is one of the largest suppliers of scientists and engineers in digital technology. The reduction of bureaucracy, the friendly attitude of the state towards the business world, the reduction of social security contributions and tax cuts until the startups become profitable are the crucial elements that make up an institutional framework which is friendly toward entrepreneurship.

Sixth, it considers it necessary to reintegrate young people who are no longer in the education system and who are not working or being trained for work (NEET). In Greece, the percentage of NEETs aged 15-24 is more than 19% of this particular age group and is the third highest in the EU. Young people in this category often find themselves abandoned by the state and placed in the margins of social and economic life.

Source: Kathimerini