Population aging rapidly

Greece’s population is expected to have grown by more than a quarter of a million people by 2030 on the back of an influx of migrants, but aging will place an enormous strain on the nation’s social security system, data showed yesterday. The figures, released by the EU’s statistical arm Eurostat, showed that in 23 years Greece’s population is expected to total 11.31 million, up from 11.04 million in 2004. Population growth, in the sense of births exceeding deaths, is expected to decline but the gap will be filled by incoming migrants, according to the data. Eurostat figures estimate that some 39 percent of Greece’s current economically active population will be over the age of 65 in 2030. In 2004, the corresponding figure stood at 26.4 percent. The higher number of elderly citizens translates into a ratio of roughly one working person to each pensioner in 2030. EU figures also highlight that Athens will be the hardest-hit area of the country. In the Attica region, 50 percent of the economically active population in the 15 to 65 age group will be pensioners, one of the highest rates of elderly residents in the EU. The youngest population mix in Greece is expected on the northern Aegean islands, where 29 percent of citizens will be above 65. The data confirm the need for a radical overhaul of the social security system in order to make it viable. The conservative government has set up a committee to prepare a series of proposals on how it can improve the pension fund system. However, proposals formulated by the committee will not be implemented during the government’s current term in office, which ends in March next year. Any decisions made are certain to be unpopular, as experts believe that the changes deemed necessary will include pushing the retirement age beyond 65 and reducing pension benefits.

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