In the last nine years, Greece faces one of the most severe crisis of the post-war period. The economic crisis of 2009 was just the beginning of an episode with different aspects. One of them is the demographic problem, which tends to be the most hazardous for the future of the country.
The weekly report for Greek economy of SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enterprises) with the title ‘SOS: The population of the country is decreasing and getting old’ warns that births in Greece have decreased by 29.380 between 2009 and 2017. The report highlights “Greece is at a crucial turning point. We have an obligation on our children to reverse the demographic decline of the country. And this can only be achieved by changing priorities in fiscal and immigration policy. If we do not want to see Greece becoming a country of elderly people and not being able, as a society, to offer the necessary minimums, we cannot continue to waste resources and create the development area that will allow the demographic recovery of the country.’
The problem, which is gradually affecting the whole of the European Union, was first noticed in 2011, when there was a significant drop of births. According to statistics of the European Parliament, systematically low birth rates (1.26 per couple) and longer life expectancy are transforming the make-up of the demographic pyramid into a much older population. The fertility rate in the European Union is 1.49. It is worth mentioning, that the rate needed for a stable population, without accounting the immigrants, it’s 2.1 births per woman.
The fertility rate in Greece had been on the upswing before the crisis, hitting 1.5 births per woman in 2008. That progress disappeared the first two years of the economic crisis, and the birth-rate gets towards the quotas of in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
According to a Greek newspaper, ekathimerini, the first signs of the demographic problem are already obvious. The number of children up to the age of 4 is on the slide, dropping from 585,000 to 503,000 in the period stretching from 2010-2015, while this figure is expected to plummet to 404,000 by 2025, according to projections by the UN.
The situation is getting even worse, if someone consider how many Greeks have left the country to find a job in EU or other countries, during the depth crisis. According to a report of the Bank of Greece, more than 427.000 Greeks have emigrated since 2008. Most of them, were young, chiefly educated and were seeking new opportunities and prospects for progress. Greece ranked fourth among the 28 European Union member-states in terms of mass emigration in proportion to its work force, after Cyprus, Ireland and Lithuania.
Last week, an article at “The Washington Post”, described the escalating problem of Greece with the typical title ‘Where are all the children’. According to the article, in 2009, just before the crisis, there were 117,933 births in Greece. The number has since fallen steadily, becoming well eclipsed by the number of deaths. The birth total in 2017, 88.553, was the lowest on record.
Today, Greece’s economy remains 25% smaller than it was a decade ago, and over the next six decades, the European statistic office, Eurostat, estimates that Greece’s population of 10.7 million will decrease by 32%.