NEWS

Population is aging, but fewer children are born

In 1951, Greeks aged 65 to 79 accounted for 7 percent of the total population. This number rose to 11.9 percent in 1995, 13 percent in 1998 and is expected to reach 14.4 percent in 2005. Correspondingly, the number of children under 15 is shrinking: From the 24.8 percent that it was in 1960, it dropped to 17.1 percent in 1995 and 15.8 percent in 1998. The ratio of over-65s to every 100 children under 15 has risen rapidly since the mid-1990s, from 74.9 percent in 1991 to 104.4 percent in 1998, and is projected to reach 114 in 2005. At the same time, first marriages are contracted at a later age, divorce is on the rise, unwanted births have dropped and single-parent households have increased. The number of births has also dropped from 1.98 per woman in 1983 to 1.3 in 1999, while 2.1 children per couple are needed to replenish each generation. Finances or a lack of family support measures are the reasons why couples do not have the desired number of children (2.3 on average). Improvement in household finances and housing conditions plays a significant part in the decision to have children. In addition, the high cost of education over the last decade and inadequate child-care provisions have also kept families small.