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Ear to the Ground

Austerity Inflicts Brain Drain on Greece

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Posted on Apr 11, 2013
David Blackwell. (CC BY 2.0)

More than 100,000 unemployed professionals have left Greece amid a shrinking economy and a lack of jobs to seek better opportunities abroad in a trend that will dramatically impact the nation for generations.

A recent study by the University of Thessaloniki found that more than 120,000 doctors, engineers, IT professionals and scientists have departed from Greece since the start of the country’s financial crisis in 2010. They are being driven out by deep cuts to health care and other publicly supported welfare programs. Their flight means the loss of potential taxpayers, which means fewer sources of public revenue available to enable the nation to repair and maintain itself.

“The number of young scientists who emmigrate has reached 10 percent of the country’s potential, and that’s very high,” the study’s director, economic geography professor Lois Lambrianides told the Athens newspaper Ethnos on Tuesday.

As of a 2011 census, 7.1 million Greeks—or 66 percent of the population—were between the ages of 15 and 65. The median age was 42.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Spiegel Online:

The study’s release followed a spec of good economic news last week when government figures showed hirings in the private sector outpaced layoffs in March. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said while the economy remains in “critical” condition, the news was a sign of recovery.

Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, at just over 26 percent. Its economy is in its sixth consecutive year of negative growth, partially the function of deep austerity measures that have been demanded by the country’s main lenders.

The so-called “troika,” comprising the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, began a new round of talks in Athens last week to evaluate Greece’s progress in reforming its economy and reducing its deficit. The lenders are demanding 150,000 fewer public sector jobs in Greece by 2015.

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