Fewer young people in population

There are fewer young people in the country and birthrates are showing signs of dropping, according to statistical data released yesterday, as migrant inflows appear to be providing vital support to national population levels. The figures, compiled by the National Statistics Service (NSS), show that the country’s population at the end of 2005 had increased to 11,125,179 from 11,082,751 at the beginning of the same year. Data showed that the number of Greeks above the age of 65 – the eligible age for a pension – represented 18.3 percent of the population versus 14.8 percent in 1994. Birthrates also showed signs of easing over the last 26 years. According to the NSS, Greek mothers gave birth to 1.31 children in 2005 down from 2.09 births in 1981. The figure in 2005 inched ahead to 1.34. In order for a country to keep population levels steady, childbirth rates per mother need to be at least 2.1. The data will fuel economists’ concerns over the viability of the country’s social security system. According to Bank of Greece data, the cost increase in supporting local pension funds by 2050 will be among the highest in the EU. Spending on pensions in 2050 is expected to reach 22.6 percent of gross domestic product, which is significantly higher than the current figure of 12.4 percent. Experts recommend keeping employees at work longer as a means of helping ease pressure on state finances. The conservative government has initiated talks with workers and employers on social security reforms and has also appointed a committee that will make final recommendations, although no changes are expected to be made during the current term. NSS figures also reflect changing social attitudes, with Greek women marrying at a much later age compared to 14 years ago. The average age for tying the knot shot up from 24.1 years old in 1991 to 28.1 in 2005.

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