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Migration and low birth rate take toll on Greek population

The fertility rate has hit record lows

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03 January 2017

Although the next census in Greece will not take place before 2021, the National Statistical Authority confirmed the shrinking of the Greek population. 

According to official data, released by the end of 2016, showed that the country's population amounted to 10,783,748 persons in January, a 0,68 decrease since January 2015. 

The decline is attributed to the combined effect of low birth rate and rising migration. During the year, the number of deaths (at 121,212) outweighed those born in Greece (at 91,847), resulting to a decrease of 29,365 persons. Another 44,905 are due to the net migration outcome; despite the large people movement, the number of people migrating to Greece amounted to 64,446, far behind the 109,351 who left the country as part of the recent 'brain drain' phenomenon. 

What is even more concerning is the fact that the Greek population is ageing. According to the authority, the Greek population aged 0 to 14 years old amounted to 14.4 per cent of the total population at the end of 2016. By comparison, 21.3 per cent of the total population was aged 65 years old and above. The majority of the population, amounting to 64.3 per cent, was aged between 15 and 64 years old. 

Both reasons for this alarming trend are largely after-effects of the ongoing crisis. With chronic unemployment on the rise and no sign of financial recovery in sight, Greeks are looking for opportunity outside the country. As for those left behind, they are not very eager to reproduce. According to a 2015 study of the Greek National Social Research Centre, the fertility rate has hit record lows of 1.1 births to 1.3 births per woman. This decline in fertility rate is largely attributed to the uncertainty that is looming over the nation, after seven years of a crisis that seems to have no end. Austerity has resulted to one in four Greeks facing unemployment and made households unable to make ends meet, which in turn and has made family planning a challenge. 

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One of the things that kept the birth rate low in Greece has been the lack of living space. I can recall talking to an accident prone young man with a wife and four children living in a 62 metre apartment that they partitioned into a three bed room apartment plus a living area. They kept their winter clothes and blankets in the mother in laws apartment down the street. The rich in Greece do have large houses. Greek statistics are a worry. Have they counted the large number of people who just drive in from the north and settle for ever? Have they counted the large number of people who came from Turkey? Vacuums fill automatically. In one particular village people from the north moved into abandoned houses; the remaining old Greek people are glad to have them as the new people are willing to help in time of need. It’s amazing that Greeks have left for greener pastures, and, the new people are finding the area suitable for raising their families. The old Greek people even asked them to take over their older Church which was replaced by a new one; to use as a Mosque. "Austerity" is not the economic problem in Greece. The ongoing war by every Greek against any productive development and not allowing people who want to work unrestricted by Government control is the problem. Billions of Greek Euros would come home if people know the Government is not going to steal it from them. In some very nice areas of Greece houses are cheaper than in war torn Africa. Even the silly people in Tasmania have managed to keep the value of their houses higher than Greece. Greeks are going to awake one day and find themselves totally dispossessed and they are going to blame the devil, the cats and the Barby dolls; but not themselves. What makes Greeks think the rest of the World should be doing the “right thing” and look after them as if they were their mummy and daddy? Can’t they see every wolf only shares when he cannot eat any more, and, only share with their tribe? It would not take much effort by the North Europeans or the USA to deliver prosperity to Greece overnight if only they did not bite the hand that offers to feed them. Nobody in the USA or EU was impressed by the behaviour of the Greek left shown towards the visiting USA President. Even the most right wing person in the USA shows respect for the black person holding the office of President representing their nation. Good manners go a long way.

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