OPINION

Hidden productivity

At last, a point of convergence has been detected between Greece and Europe’s more developed nations – a shrinking population! Indeed, Greece appears to be one of three European countries, along with Germany and Sweden, where the number of deaths is increasingly surpassing the rate of births. And if it wasn’t for the country’s immigrants (those who are on the civil register), there would be an even more extreme drop. Provisional estimates put Greece’s population at 10.59 million. But Greek statistics are rarely a faithful depiction of reality. The current population is actually much larger, due principally to the fact that these figures do not account for several hundred thousand immigrants. Strangely, this is also the case with work-force statistics. And this is despite the significant contribution of foreign workers to Greek productivity which, according to a recent survey, accounts for 1 percent of GDP, 3 percent of agricultural production, and 8 percent of construction sector output. The impact of this contribution to GDP (but not on employment figures) has provoked a sharp rise in Greece’s labor productivity rate, which is estimated at 18.8 percent, second only to EU leader Ireland at 21.4 percent. But these statistics do not reflect the reality we see in the public and private sectors. This «prosperity on paper» can be partly attributed to the increased output of some firms that slashed their work force. But it is also a testimony to the effectiveness of the black market.