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SEV: Greece's Population Declining, with Drop in Births Comparable to 1940s

Αssociated Press

FILE - An elderly man passes by homeless men in Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The Greek population is decreasing for the first time since WWII, according to the weekly bulletin of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) that was published on Thursday.

Bearing the title "SOS: Greek population is decreasing and ageing," the bulletin said that the population in Greece had been increasing steadily before the crisis due to immigration and the consumption boom of the 2000s, yet these factors had masked the fact that, in real numbers, the difference between deaths and births had been negligible since the late 1990s. Then, during the years of the crisis, everything changed and births plummeted by 29,380 between 2009 and 2017. This reduction was roughly the same as that experienced by the country during the 1940s, when the number of births fell by 30,000. As a result of this sharp drop, according to SEV, the population has been decreasing.

"It could prove temporary or be reversed as the economy begins to pick up," the bulletin continued. If the population does not recover, however, "all the children that weren't or won't be born will be missing from the workforce of the 2030s and 2040s and this will mire the country's potential for growth."

Greece has a duty to reverse the demographic decline, the bulletin concluded, something that can be achieved through rethinking the country's priorities in terms of its fiscal and migration policies.

SEV suggested that measures be taken to ease the tax burden imposed on families, provide women with post-maternity leave job security, facilitate women's return to work through universal access to childcare, provide tax incentives for the return of Greeks living abroad and implement policies aimed at attracting skilled immigrants to be employed in the most promising sectors of the economy.