According to the National Statistics Service, fewer babies are being born in Greece each year and the influx of immigrants is supplying sustenance for a growing aged population.
The number of Greeks over the age of 65 — eligible for retirement and a pension — represented 18.3 percent of the population versus 14.8 percent in 1994. Birthrates decreased steadily in the same period with Greek mothers giving birth to 1.31 children in 2005; the overall rate was 1.34 children when including non-Greeks. In order for a country to keep population levels steady, childbirth rates per mother need to be at least 2.1.
While statistics show that immigrants contribute significantly to social funds and rarely utilize them, the birthrate and aged population data combined with the recent pension scandal raises concerns about the country’s social security system. This is supported by data from the Bank of Greece that sustaining local pension funds will be among the highest in the EU by 2050.
The NSS figures also reflect changing social attitudes. Greek women are marrying at a later age compared to 14 years ago, with the average now at 28.1 years old (up from 24.1 in 1981).
What the article didn’t mention was WHY there are fewer children, which is the bigger and more important issue.
It’s no secret that Greece has one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU, coupled with the lowest salaries if you do have a job. Add to this a growing rate of inflation in which annual salary increases don’t keep pace, below standard health care and social services, and an inflated housing market that rivals the most expensive cities in America. It’s a tough, unsupported road ahead to have two children or even one.
Many of my Greek friends are working professional couples with only one child and no plans for another. They don’t see how they’ll manage with two children because there’s an issue of child care — their parents are aging and cannot help care for young children/babies, there’s no government assistance, and they need two salaries to meet expenses so one of them cannot stay home full-time.
There is also the issue of public schools and universities, namely if the curriculum keeps pace with the rest of the world in order for future graduates to be competitive. Just looking at stats for PC competency, let alone Internet use, Greece lags far behind the rest of the EU. Many see private school as the solution, albeit expensive.
Perhaps the NSS should look at the outflux of nationals who left Greece to give birth in a country that does offer more opportunities, less corruption, higher salaries, competitive prices and quality social services…a “better life.” Perhaps Greece should look internally for answers and not externally to Greek mothers.
For related articles, see “Economy.”