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Society

The Shrinking Country: Greece’s Population Just Keeps Dropping

December 15, 2021

ΑΤΗΕΝS – Greece’s population is getting older and slowly dwindling after a long economic and austerity crisis drove out scores of thousands of people and left many young economically at risk and unwilling to have children yet.

It fell some 37 per 10,000 people on average from 2014-19, when the crisis was at its worst, found a study by Athens’ Panteion University Professor of Demography Christos Bagavos, said Kathimerini.

That published in the latest of a new series of digital bulletins on a research program funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) to track the phenomenon.

During that same period, migration saw the European Union overall add 13 people per 10,000 population. It was 46 across the whole of Europe, and 24 in Greece, showing how Greeks were even more reluctant to have children.

While migrants held down the declining population, it only slowed it in Greece which is graying faster than the rest of the bloc.

In October, the EU’s statistical agency Eurostat said that by 2030, Greece will proportionately have more elderly people than any other country in Europe, surpassing Italy, a worry for the beleaguered pension system with fewer workers paying in for more beneficiaries taking out.

The report said that in Greece – where more than half the population is already over 50 years old – that the population will fall by almost a million by 2050 and by 2 million by 2070.

Eurostat data and demographic projections in the EU show that over the last four decades in Greece, student and pupil numbers have been decreasing while the economically active population is shrinking, said Kathimerini.

At a conference held in cooperation with HOPEgenesis and the support of the Office of the European Parliament and the European Commission Delegation to Greece, Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said it poses risks for the pension and health systems and economy.

That ominous sign came two years after a report that Greece will be made up mostly of the old and retired by 2050.

That scary prospect was raised by the Hellenic Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology (HAGG) which said teens will make up only 12 percent of the population by then, the average age will be 50, the paper said then.

In even more dire news, there will be only about 3.7 million workers, little more than a third of the population now, who will be bearing the burden of paying into a sagging social security system that’s already underfunded.

HAGG warned about the impact of Greece’s low birth rate and negative net migration rate while urging authorities to take measures to encourage healthy and active aging without saying what those could be.

The new New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is giving a bonus of 2,000 euros ($2,327) for each child born, a plan aimed at encouraging people to have more babies after the crisis saw the rate plunge even more with people worried about the ability to pay for raising children.

In 2016, the birth rate was 8.5 per 1,000 people or about 1.3 per household. The death rate was 11.2 per 1,000 people.

Some 20 percent of Greek women born in the 1970s are likely to remain childless, a level not seen since WWII, the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna found in 2017.

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