Much like the rest of Europe, Greece is struggling with decreasing birth-rates and experts say it will be hard to reverse the trend.

According to Reuters, recent data shows that the record low numbers of births are driven by the debt crisis that led to years of austerity, emigration and changed attitudes among the young.

2022 saw the lowest number of births in 92 years and preliminary unofficial data indicate another drop for last year.

Greece’s fertility rate is one of the lowest in Europe with some villages having not recorded a single birth in years.

Reports are that in May the government in planning to unveil new measures to boost birth-rates.

Officials, including the family minister, say the plan is to include cash benefits for families, affordable housing for young people, financial incentives for assisted reproduction, and incorporating migrants into the workforce.

Other EU countries have attempted similar measures but to no success, and it is expected to be no different in Greece.

Even those behind the plans have doubts.

“If I were to tell you that any given minister at any given ministry … can reverse the trend, it would be a lie,” Sofia Zacharaki, Greece’s minister for social cohesion and family affairs told Reuters.

She insisted they need to keep trying though.

Even before the incentives planned for May, the government created a birth allowance and tax breaks on baby items, and extended private sector maternity benefit.

These have shown little sign of working.

Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said it is one of the most serious problems faced by Greece and the whole EU.

“It is our priority … whatever it takes,” he said.

An elderly man sits inside an open care centre for elderly people, in Athens on February 2, 2024. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP

The issue is much larger because of the debt crisis, with youth unemployment around 25 per cent. It was 60 per cent just a few years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of young Greeks left during the financial crisis and those who remained are struggling to buy property.

One place in Greece where the problem is prevalent is the village of Ormenio and the wider Orestiada municipality.

Census data shows the population of Orestiada, a crop-growing area bordering Turkey and Bulgaria, shrank 16 per cent between 2011 and 2021.

Oremenio village president Stratos Vasiliadis said it used to be full of children, but now two thirds of the 300 residents are over 70.

The area was hit significantly during the crisis with a sugar factory shut down, causing hundreds of jobs to be lost.

It is still shut alongside other businesses.

The nearest primary school, which serves 17 villages, is thinning out.

Four children make up the entire first grade, and next year there will be known according to the school’s headmaster Dimitris Rossidis

“The future doesn’t look bright,” he said.