NEWS

Population of young shrinking fast

Experts predict a demographic decline to the tune of almost half a million people a decade

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Greece’s population is shrinking by about 450,000 a decade, which means that in 30 years’ time there will be 1.5 million fewer people, according to the latest projections based on data published by the country’s statistical agency, ELSTAT, last week. 

This trend is powered by data regarding young people, whose numbers are dropping at an alarming rate due to falling birth rates and growing life expectancy. Indicatively, in 1951 people up to 14 years old accounted for 29% of the population, compared with today’s 14%.

The population in Greece in 2001 was an estimated 10.836 million and rose in 2011 to 11.123 million, mainly due to migration in that decade. In 2021 it fell to 10.679 million.

Broken down, the percentage of the population that was over the age of 65 in 2001 was 14.5%. By 2011, this percentage rose to 19.3% of the population and in 2021 it reached 22.6%.

This comes as no surprise as the gap between deaths and births since 1998 has been widening. More specifically, 84,767 births and 130,669 deaths were recorded in 2021, despite expectations that the conditions created by the pandemic would lead to an increase in births. The fertility rate in Greece is at 1.38 births per woman, one of the lowest in the European Union. 

“By 2050 the number of people over the age of 65 will be above 800,000. Meanwhile, we currently have about 350,000 people over the age of 85 and 2050 this age group will include about 150,000 to 200,000 more people,” Vyronas Kotzamanis, a professor of demography at the University of Thessaly, said in comments to Kathimerini. 

He also noted that this means there will be a significant percentage of the population without close relatives to support them.

Kotzamanis added that there are solutions that could bring results in the coming years and further into the future, such as “the reduction of unemployment, that is the increase of the percentage of people who are of productive age and really producing,” he said. “At the moment 65 out of 100 people in Greece are at a productive age, while in Sweden [this number] is 95.”

Increasing the percentage of workers would bolster the economy and the financing of the welfare state, while at the same time providing the right conditions for young people to have children, he stressed.