A parliamentary committee released an alarming report on Tuesday which projects that the Greek population may shrink to as low as a total of 8.3 million people by the year 2050.
According to the report, if current trends in births, deaths and migration continue, Greece’s population will contract from a high of 10.9 million in 2015 to between 9.5 and 10.4 million in 2035. If those trends continue further, the Greek population may number between 8.3 and 10 million in 2050.
“The demographic problem is not an isolated issue… it is an issue of overall strategy. It is a consequence of how we choose to organize our society,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Parliament.
The Greek PM hit an optimistic note, however, saying that the problem will be addressed through growth and employment opportunities. “Reversing the tendency of reduced birth cannot happen through austerity and the disruption of social cohesion, nor without a policy of integrating the immigrants,” he noted.
According to the report, the Greek population is also expected to age significantly by 2035, with the over-65 age bracket accounting for nearly 28 percent of the total, compared to 21 percent of the population in 2015.
The percentage of the over-65 contingent is expected to increase to as much as 33 percent of the population by the year 2050.
Children up to the age of 18 will comprise between 14.2 and 15.8 percent of the population in 2035 but will increase in numbers to represent up to 19 percent of the population total in 2050.
The finds are most alarming, however, for the of people in the 15-64 age bracket, those who are the working-age population. Its size is seen as contracting from a high of 7 million people in 2015 to 5.8 to 6.3 million in 2035, and to a total of between 4.6 to 5.5 million in 2050.
Sia Anagnostopoulou, the president of the parliamentary committee for the demographic problem, stated that “in recent years we have reached a critical point that demographers call ‘extremely low’ birth rates, meaning we have 1.24 births per couple.”
It is a reality that no one can deny any longer. The country has been in a demographic decline which started in 1980, with a very small population increase after 2004, before the crisis.
That small bump in numbers was attributed to a climate of prosperity that existed then but mostly to the large number of migrants’ children that were incorporated,” explained the minister, noting that addressing the demographic problem needs coordinated policies and not just to exhort people to “have more children”.
Commenting on the findings, opposition New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the numbers are proof that the “present generation is the first since the end of World War II which does not believe that it will have a better future than its parents.”
Greece “no longer provides opportunities,” he said, adding that the report’s findings point to a “national and existential challenge.”