The ‘average’ migrant is young, married, high-school graduate

There are now 797,093 immigrants in Greece, mainly young people and mostly high-school graduates. Around half have their own families. Soon they will comprise a sizable (25 percent) proportion of the population. The first of these immigrants arrived in Greece some 20 years ago, when it was much more difficult for them to adapt, when living and work conditions were extremely difficult and the environment was a more hostile one. Panteion University’s Institute for Urban Environment and Human Resources surveyed this new population group as part of its research in drafting the Operational Program.The most important finding was the size of the immigrant population. By 2015, the general population will have reached 14.2 million, of which 3-3.5 million will be foreigners. The 1981 population census recorded 176,119 foreigners, in 2001 there were 797,093. In 1999, there was a population increase of 18,000, of which 14,000 were immigrants. Of the 100,000 births recorded annually, 15,000 are to immigrants. In the 1995-1996 school year, there were 47,700 foreign pupils in primary and secondary schools. In 1997-1998 this had gone up to 67,200, comprising 4.6 percent of the school population. Two out of three immigrants are males, and 65 percent are of Albanian origin, followed by Bulgarians (6.5 percent), Romanians (4.5 percent), Pakistanis (4.2 percent and Ukrainians (2.6 percent). Just over half of those who have applied for a residence permit are married. Nearly half (42.8 percent) of the men work in construction, and nearly a quarter in manufacturing. Over half of the women are domestic workers, and 14 percent work in hotels and restaurants. Just under half have a high school education, although 37.05 percent have attended only primary school. Some 8.89 percent have a tertiary education. Women are generally better educated than the men. The majority of immigrants are aged 30-34. Although immigration is a common phenomenon in Western Europe, the institute found considerable differences between Greece and other countries in Europe in this area. Although 50 percent of immigrants in Western Europe are people who have applied for political asylum or to be reunited with their families, in Greece they are chiefly economic immigrants. Comparatively few are seeking political asylum, while immigrants with legal status have very few dependents. Greece, along with Luxembourg, has the highest percentage of immigrants in its population (7-7.5 percent) and the highest percentage of illegal immigrants. In Greece, as in other southern European countries, there are very few elderly immigrants. There is also a increasing proportion of women immigrants, particularly in the service industries and in unskilled work. The overwhelming majority are from the former Soviet states – from the Ukraine (80.6 percent of immigrants from this country are women), Moldavia (74.4 percent), Georgia (63.8 percent), figures which tend to confirm the perception that these countries are rife with gangs exploiting women. On the other hand, there are almost no women immigrants from Muslim states such as Egypt and Syria, or from India.

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