The Greek population dropped by 355,000 between 2008 and 2017, an expert said on Monday, attributing the change mostly to the declining birthrate following the economic crisis.
Giorgos Rachiotis, Epidemiology professor from the University of Thessaly, pointed out that the immediate solution would be for young, highly specialized scientists to return to Greece. In addition, the Greek state could introduce initiatives supporting motherhood and births, regardless of the number of children a couple might already have.
Particularly urgent, Rachiotis said, was to reintroduce demographic balance in sensitive areas of the country, such as East Macedonia, Thrace and the North Aegean islands, where the birth/death ratio is becoming an issue of national security.
Although declining birth rates are a European-wide phenomenon, and in Greece the trend began as early as the 70’s and 80’s, the Greek population continued to rise due to the influx of migrants, and to birth rates which outpaced death rates.
“The economic crisis, and Greece’s ensuing inclusion in the loan memoranda mechanism, upset the balance,” Professor Rachiotis stated, and “Greece experienced a colossal economic and social catastrophe.”
He continued, saying that this social cataclysm was “unprecedented for post-World War II years. Precarious demographic balances were disrupted, and birth rates dropped precipitously.”
In addition, Rachiotis noted, “for the 2015-2017 period, deaths exceeded births by 91,2017, while in 2017 births dropped under 90,000 on an annual basis.” At the same time, he added, the migration balance changed when hundreds of thousands of Greeks at a productive age, and with high level of education, left the country.
Greece needs to do more to help families, according to Rachiotis, including reintroducing reduced taxes for families with several children, and even providing pensions to mothers with many children.