The 3rd Economist Conference brought together scientists, officials, government representatives and opposition politicians to debate, raise awareness and scare people.
Greece's population is aging and shrinking dramatically, with births hitting a record low last year and forecasts predicting tough times for decades to come.
Characteristic are the words of Byron Kotjamanis, a professor at the University of Thessaly, who estimates that in 2050, the country's population could drop from a few hundred to 1.5 due to a constant lack of births compared to deaths.
Analyzing the conditions shaping Greek population trends, he focused more on the population in a particular area of the region, but also on the decline in marriages and the increase in divorces and co-habitation contracts.
In this context, Mr. Kotjamanis spoke of the need to implement joint measures that would “limit the increase in deaths in the coming decades and create a more favorable environment for the younger generation to have the desired number of children.” It will significantly reduce immigration of new productive and reproductive ages, allow a part of those who left to return, allow new foreigners to integrate and settle permanently and reverse the over-concentration of population in the area.
Five million are over 50 years of age
For his part, Wolfgang Fengler, former World Bank chief economist and head of the World Data Lab, rang the bell when he found that out of a population of 11 million, Greece has 5 million over-50s. Births fell by 11% compared to 9% at the European level, and working age in Greece fell by 15% compared to 10% in Europe.
Based on today's data, our country is at risk of losing half a million workers, Mr. Fengler said.
According to him, “the solution is for migrants, digital nomads to contribute to their taxation and their lives in the country”, while he pointed out that the country should get more female employees and incentives should be given to those who want to work at an older age. .
Gunnar Andersson, professor of demography at Stockholm University, described Greece's demographics as an “urgent problem”, stressing that people between the ages of 40 and 50 make up a very high percentage. He suggested that retirement should be linked to the future and that personal and professional life should be harmoniously combined.
Government officials said
Labor Minister Domna Michelido spoke at the conference, talking about policies to be included in the labor market demographic groups over the age of 25-45, where Greece records the lowest unemployment in Europe.
Ms. Michailidou spoke about the status of women in the labor market and policies that bring security to the professional arena to raise their children with financial security. While recalling the attention already taken on benefits, day cares, flexible work patterns, electronic work card etc., he emphasized that there is still a lot to be done. Considering the country's future pension needs, the women minister pointed out that there are tools for people above 55 years of age, retirees, people with disabilities and those under 25 years of age to enter the labor market.
For her part, the Deputy Minister of Social Cohesion and Family, Maria Alexandra Kefala, pointed out the need for the cooperation of all social forces to curb the problem.
He said the government has, among others, provided incentives, funding and funding, child allowance, special arrangements for nurseries which now cover all beneficiaries, increased parental leave and for the first time these are also being offered to freelancers and fathers.
It also increased payments, the ambitious project “My House” for housing young couples is moving forward, while the “Neighborhood Babysitters” project is already being piloted, for childcare, which significantly helps parents in their work or work. Job search.
Mrs. Kefala characteristically said, “There are no magic solutions, but it is our national duty to fight against unfavorable perspectives,” which was agreed by other panel speakers. At the same time, he emphasized the National Plan for Population, which will be presented to the Prime Minister in the spring and will include family support, workforce strengthening, care of the elderly, priorities. Assurance of quality of life.
Speaking to the Economist, Elena Akrita observed a growing gap between the center and the periphery, like the one between Athens and Thessaloniki, while she noted that insecurity is the biggest problem for families who want to have children and that the burden ultimately falls on them. girl
The SYRIZA member of parliament argued that demography is a problem with multiple and difficult aspects, and he pointed out that there are two main axes to deal with it. The first is about the integration of more immigrants into the country and the second is about providing incentives and social benefits for Greeks to have more children.
He made it clear that immigrants are a boon to the economy and society, that Greece needs immigrants, and that the far-right and right-wing demagogues stand in the way. However, he acknowledged that there are legitimate complaints from citizens living in poor conditions and economic suffocation. Regarding the increase in births, he said that austerity policies that kill any plan to combat the low birth rate must be stopped, and citizens must be convinced as soon as possible that a better tomorrow is possible.
PASOK-KIN.ALL MP described the government's actions as inadequate and fragmented. Nadia Gianakopoulou, however, as she said, “we must not make them zero”, as she recalled the plans of the late Fofi Gennimata, which were accepted by all parties to deal with the problem.
He also emphasized that it is very difficult to change the situation as long as Greece remains the lowest paid country in Europe, especially for young people, while the phenomenon of the housing crisis is already being observed, while lack of time has become a major problem.
Referring to the integration of legal immigrants into the Greek economy and society, he said that working hands are needed, especially in the primary sector, and that we should take advantage of the experience with Albanian immigrants. Today we see the second generation being uniquely positioned in schools to contribute to the economy.
Finally, he expressed hope that with cross-party consensus and everyone's cooperation, the “national race” on the population issue could be won.
Effects on the labor market
For his part, the head of the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece, Alexandros Charigiore, focused on Greece's pension system, praising the contribution of the capitalization system that now works hand-in-hand with the distribution system. As he said, the demographic problem is already causing problems in the future pensions of Greeks and in the health sector, because the country's population is aging. However, he explained that the government alone cannot deal with these issues.
Meanwhile, Nikos Vettas, Director General of IOBE, spoke of the need for a long-term plan that goes beyond the time horizon of a government to deal with the population. He pointed out, among others, the need to shift resources to preschool development, long-term care of the elderly, as well as policies of migrant integration with simultaneous incentives for the return of Greeks from abroad.
Finally, the lawyer Yanis Garosos spoke about the participation of women in the labor market, as he said, unemployment among women in Greece reaches 11.7%. At the same time, in Greece, their salaries are 13.7% lower than men's, while 1 in 10 Greek companies do not trust women as leaders in their management. In fact, although many measures have been taken (structures to protect against their dismissal, maternity leave, payments, etc.) these have not worked, resulting in young couples refusing to have children.
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