The total number of deaths in Greece in 2018 outpaced the number of births for an eighth consecutive year, official data showed Tuesday, underscoring the nation’s losing battle to raise its birth rate.
In 2018 the population registered a net loss of 33,857 people from a year earlier as there were 86,440 births (45,686 boys and 42,867 girls) and 120,297 deaths, data compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority showed.
The number of births fell to its lowest since records started in 1932, when 185,523 births were recorded. The demographic reversal has been ongoing since 2011.
The southern Aegean islands and Crete were the only parts of the country where births exceeded deaths last year.
Greece’s population has been getting older and shrinking in recent years due to low birth rates and an increase in the emigration of young people due to the brutal financial crisis.
Experts warn that, by 2050, Greece’s population will drop by between 800,000 and – according to more pessimistic estimates – 2.5 million people. The new conservative government has vowed to grant a 2,000-euro benefit for every child born in the country as of 2020.
Greece’s infant mortality rate last year stood at 3.47 per 1,000 live births, as a total of 300 infants died before reaching the age of one year. The rate rose by a tissue-thin margin compared to 2017.
According to ELSTAT, one in seven (14.3 percent) babies born in Greece in 2018 had a mother who was a citizen of another country, while the vast majority (91.2 percent) were born to couples who were married or had signed a cohabitation pact. The average age of first-time mothers was 31.5, from 30.5 in 2011 and 31 in 2014.
ELSTAT said the total number of weddings and cohabitation agreements in 2018 was 53,797. Church weddings came to 24,418 (45.4 percent) and civil weddings to 23,010 (42.8 percent), while 6,369 couples (11.8 percent) signed cohabitation agreements – including 286 pacts between same-sex couples.
The number of couples choosing to sign cohabitation pacts has steadily increased since the institution was first introduced about 10 years ago. The number rose from 4,921 in 2017 to 6,369 last year, a 30 percent increase.