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Crisis sees fewer and poorer Greeks

Greece’s population is shrinking at an increasing pace according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) concerning the natural change in the population (i.e. only the difference between births and deaths without taking immigration/emigration into account).

From 2010 when the Memorandum Agreement was first signed, the number of births has declined rapidly while there has been a moderate upswing in the number of deaths.

Specifically in 2010 there were 114,766 live births, while in 2013 there were almost 20,000 fewer (94,134). At the same time the number of deaths in 2013 was 111,794 compared to 109,084 in 2010.

This means that in 2013 alone the population shrank due to the differing birth and death rates by 17,660 individuals. In 2010 by contrast the natural change in the population was positive with 5,682 more births than deaths.

In 2011, 2012, the death rate also exceed the birth rate meaning that in total over the first three years of the Memorandum the overall change was -38,000.

While it has long been the case that Greece has had a relatively low birth rate, the trend seems to be worsening, particularly in the years of the Memorandum.

By comparison in 1990 the Greek population was adding 8,077 people per year through natural change, whereas in 1980 the equivalent figure was 60,852.

While birth and death rates can be complex as they relate to broader demographic changes, it appears clear that austerity has taken its toll as pinched and unemployed young couples put off having children.

The data should cause public policy officials to take note as a shrinking population spells disaster for pension programs and a vibrant workforce in the medium and long term.