ATHENS – Agreeing with earlier warnings and worries that Greece, beset by an economic crisis, low birth rates and an exodus of people seeking work and a better life elsewhere, will have a shrinking population, a parliamentary committee said the country could lose as much as 2.6 million people by 2050.
The committee, stressing the need for measures to boost birth rates and to ensure “healthy aging” so as to minimize pressure on the health and social security systems, said the population could fall from 10.9 million people in 2015 to 8.3 million in the next 31 years.
It predicted that if current trends in births, deaths and emigration continue, Greece’s population will keep contracting sharply and age fast too, with over-65s accounting for nearly 28 percent of the total, against 21 percent in 2015. That rate is expected to increase to as much as 33 percent by 2050.
Children up to the age of 18 will comprise between 14.2 and 15.8 percent of the population in 2035 but will rise to represent up to 19 percent of the total in 2050, the report said according to media accountings.
The most alarming trend is for the 15-64 year-old major bracket seen falling from 7 million people in 2015 to 5.8-6.3 million in 2035 and 4.6-5.5 million in 2050.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said the problem existed before he took power in 2015 without noting people have continued to flee under his rule after he was unable to make a serious dent in unemployment rates.
He said he would reverse the problem by creating more jobs and have a “policy to integrate migrants,” as a plan to have refugees and migrants try to rebuild the population, telling his lawmakers that a lack of jobs is the problem, said the business newspaper Kathimerini.
In terms of immigration to the east Mediterranean country, he said the integration of migrants into Greek society should not be considered as a “threat but as an asset,” citing NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose family came from Nigeria and was given citizenship after he became a basketball phenom.
Tsipras said previous government policies had denied denied citizenship to roughly 200,000 minors born in Greece to parents without Greek citizenship.
Major opposition leader New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the numbers are proof the “present generation is the first since the end of World War II which does not believe that it will have a better future than its parents.”
Greece “no longer provides opportunities,” he said, adding that the report’s findings point to a “national and existential challenge,” as the rivals blamed each other again.