Even today, five in 10 workers in Greece state their willingness to relocate abroad, as do four in 10 unemployed people.
As the government struggles with pressures for additional austerity measures totaling 3.6 billion euros a year, it is missing out on tax revenues of over 9.1 billion euros per year from the departure of Greeks looking to escape the years-long crisis abroad.
The ongoing brain drain is also depriving the Greek economy of the precious human resources that would be needed for its recovery. A McKinsey survey, in fact, has shown that one in three Greek employers were unable to fill vacant posts in their businesses because they could not find the right people with the right skills.
The economy, moreover, is is not just being deprived of revenues and human resources because of the brain drain. The Greeks who have left this country are estimated to contribute a total of 12.9 billion euros to the gross domestic product of the countries they have relocated to, and this comes after Greece invested some 8 billion euros into the primary, secondary and tertiary education of the people it can no longer hold on to, according to Giorgos Tsopelas, the senior partner and managing director of McKinsey & Co Greece and Cyprus, citing data and estimates by Endeavor Greece, the Bank of Greece and the McKinsey Global Institute.
The Endeavor Greece study and the estimates by the central bank from January 2008 to the first half of this year show that the flight of human resources from Greece in this period came to between 350,000 and 427,000 people.
Most of these individuals have post-graduate degrees and are now contributing to the GDP mainly of Germany and Britain, while Greece misses out on an annual 7.9 billion euros in income tax and social security contributions, as well as about 1.2 billion euros from value-added tax the state could have cashed in.
In total those hundreds of thousands of Greeks who left have accounted for over 50 billion euros of the GDP of the countries they have moved to since 2008, Tsopelas said.
Scientists monitoring the phenomenon in Greece say this is the biggest brain drain seen in a developed Western economy in recent history. Still, the Greek it is not finished just yet, as five in 10 workers and four in 10 unemployed respondents said in recent surveys that they are thinking of moving abroad.