Greece records rapid increase in net emigration levels

Eurostat says 44,200 more people left Greece than arrived last year

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Eurostat also records that Greece has the third lowest birth rate (9 live births per 1,000 population) in the EU – a position it shares with Italy. Both countries followed Germany (8.4 births per 1,000) and Portugal (8.5 births per 1,000)

Greece's recorded its highest net emigration level last year since records began in 1998, data released by the the European Commission’s statistics office on Thursday showed. 

Eurostat said 44,200 more people left Greece than arrived last year. 

That amounts to a net migration of -4.0 people per 1,000, compared with -7.6 in Ireland, -7.1 in Lithuania, -5.8 in Latvia, -5.7 in Estonia, -3.6 in Portugal and -3.5 in Spain.

The figure is the highest net emigration level Greece has recorded since Eurostat started collecting the data in 1998. The only other time it recorded net emigration was in 2010 (-0.1 per 1,000).

Luxembourg had the greatest net immigration in 2012, at 18.9 per 1,000 people, followed by Norway at 9.4, Switzerland at 8.3, Malta at 7.4 and Italy at 6.2. Liechtenstein, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Denmark and the UK also saw more immigrants arriving than emigrants leaving in the 12-month period.

The data showed that Greece's population declined by 5.5% - or by 60,500 people – in 2012, from 11,123,000 to 11,062,500.

The country has the third lowest birth rate (9 live births per 1,000 population in 2012) – a position it shares with Italy. Both countries followed Germany (8.4 births per 1,000) and Portugal (8.5 births per 1,000).

Some 100,400 live births were recorded in Greece in the period, compared to 116,700 deaths. This resulted in a natural decrease of 16,300, which is lower than the 44,200 lost by net outward migration.

The EU gained 882,200 people through migration in 2012, while the population overall rose by 1.1 million to 505.7m. A total of 5.2m babies were born in the 28 EU countries in the year, while five million deaths were registered.

The population increased in 17 member states, led by Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden and the UK, and fell in 11 states, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria.

Brain drain

Meanwhile, other research on 2,700 Greek third-level graduates in 2010 found that of those who worked abroad for at least one year, only 15.9% have returned.

The data was presented by Lois Labrianidis of the economics department of the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki on Thursday.

He attributed the emigration of graduates to better job opportunities and pay abroad. He said 46.4% of Greek PhD holders living abroad who took part in the survey have annual earnings of more than €60,000, while in Greece that figure is 11.4%.

Similarly, in Greece nearly four in ten (39.4%) have an income of less than €25,000, which is the case for only 9.2% for those who remained abroad.

He also noted that 60.9% of respondents did not look even work in Greece before deciding to leave – or to remain – abroad for work.

Of those who did seek work in Greece, most (62%) did so for less than six months before giving up

The graduates working abroad are most likely to have degrees in economics, business administration or law (33%), computer programming, physics or chemistry (25%) and engineering and computer engineers etc (23%).

Labrianidis received responses from graduates living in 74 countries in total. Of the respondents, 91% of them were concentrated in ten countries, mainly the UK (31.7%), US (28.7%) and Germany (6.6%). 

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Eurostat press release on population, 20 Nov 2013 - 183 KB