Population shrinking at alarming rate

Citing ‘immediate and significant danger,’ PM announces national council to reverse trend

Population shrinking at alarming rate

Greece’s population is set to decline over the next 20 years, and to shrink by 24% by 2100 to 8.1 million, according to research by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) presented at the Demographics 2022 conference in central Athens.

More specifically, IOBE data showed that Greece’s population decreased by 4%, or 441,000 people, in the decade 2011-21 as both the natural balance (births-deaths) and the migrant balance are negative. 

IOBE predicts that in the most optimistic scenario, which presupposes high migration, the population will decrease by 16%, to 8.9 million, between 2022 and 2100. Moreover, in the case of zero migration flows, the population contraction is expected to be in the order of 45%.

It is also estimated that real GDP in 2100 will be 58 billion euros lower, the workforce will lose 2.1 million people, budget revenues will drop by 14 billion euros and per capita GDP by about 1,740 euros.

The decline in births compared to deaths began as early as 1980, and the problem was exacerbated during the financial crisis of the previous decade, which saw some 450,000 working-age people migrating to foreign shores in the quest for brighter economic prospects.

Warning of an “immediate and significant danger,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the creation of a national council tasked with reversing the negative demographic trends. “We are not dealing with a threat to our national identity, but with a direct challenge to the country’s ability to produce wealth on an individual and collective level, thereby sustaining the social fabric that binds people together,” Mitsotakis said.

For his part, IOBE General Director Nikos Vettas stressed that the percentage of Greeks working today is very small. 

Indicatively, the PM’s chief economic adviser Alex Patelis noted that 37% of Greece’s population is working today, while one in three young people are unemployed.

Vettas stressed, nevertheless, that Greece will be able to rely on women. “We are one of the lowest countries in terms of women in the workforce,” he said, stressing that less than six in 10 women with young children work compared to nine out of 10 men. “We are last in Europe if we measure the participation of women in work and other positions,” he said, adding that women must be supported.

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