As Young Flee, Greece Could Lose 18% of Population by 2050

Two boys prepare to dive into the sea at the Athens' southern suburb of Paleo Faliro, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – With scores of thousands – led by those under 25 who can’t find work – leaving Greece in search of a better life, the country is on track to lose 18 percent of its population by the year 2050, a study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development found.

That doesn’t bode well for the already overburdened social security system, underfunded because there are fewer working people paying for more pensioners and with many companies ducking their contributions at the same time.

Greece’s crushing economic crisis and more than seven years of austerity were singled out as the main reasons for the phenomenon which shows the country’s fast aging and predicament.

With unemployment still near 50 percent for those under 25, and with many of Greece’s young not having children, fearful of how they will care for them, the developments are worrisome for the country’s future. The birth rate is one of the lowest in the world.

According to the study, Greece lost nearly 3 percent of its population between 2011 and 2016 and the population of 10.8 million is expected to fall to 9.9 million by 2030 and 8.9 million by 2050, an unsustainable rate for recovery.

Some 21 percent of the population is over 65 and fewer than 100,000 babies being born each year, far less than the death rate and the second worst in Europe, after Italy. The study found Greece will have the highest ratio of pensioners to workers in Europe by 2050, if the pensions, which are constantly being cut, can be paid by then.