Roughly 350,000 Greeks, mostly highly educated, are estimated to have moved abroad since 2008, making human capital Greece’s number one export, according to a report by Endeavor, a global non-profit organization specializing in “high-impact” entrepreneurship.
Relying on data collected from host countries and local research, the report says that Greece’s brain drain generates, annually, an equivalent of 12.9 billion euros in GDP and 9.1 billion in taxes for the hosts, while it has generated more than 50 billion euros since 2008.
The annual export of human capital, the report says, ranks first in value, at 12.9 billion euros, above oil products (7.2 billion) and aluminum products (1.3 billion), among others.
The brain drain that has afflicted Greece since the onset of the financial crisis is also making it increasingly difficult for “high growth” companies to keep talented staff at home and to attract expats. The main reasons, according to Endeavor, are the “high non-salary costs that further reduce already low salaries, the lack of career growth options and the lack of country-level ‘growth narrative’ and plan.”
Tellingly, 49 percent of employed Greeks “are more willing to leave the country in search of better career growth potential and a more stable environment than the unemployed (43 percent).”
The report urges a reversal of the trend noting, however, that the brain drain could, in the long run, bring back know-how and innovative ideas – that is if these 350,000 Greeks ever return.