Greece is losing its priceless human capital as the economic crisis continues, which is leading to the biggest brain drain in history since the time of Socrates, according to a Market Watch report.
The country’s brightest workforce is leaving to seek careers abroad as the Greek economy shrinks and bankruptcy looms large. An estimated 180,000 to 200,000 well-educated Greeks have fled to seek their fortune abroad. This is about 10% of the total of university-educated individuals.
According to a European University Institute study cited in the report, 88% of those left hold a university degree, over 60% hold a master’s degree and 11% are Ph.D holders. 79% of them actually had jobs when the crisis started but decided to leave because they felt there was “no future” in the country (50%) or professional opportunities (25%).
The impact of the brain drain is substantial for an economy that has lost 25% of its gross domestic product since the crisis began. It is affecting income and consumption taxes, but most importantly it denies Greece the brain power that would regenerate the economy by creating higher value production, according to Joan Vidra, chief of the sovereign-ratings department at ARC Ratings.
At the same time, around 35,000 young Greeks are currently studying abroad and could decide to seek employment outside the country, the report said. In Greece, 70% of university graduates would like to work abroad and 10% of them are actively searching for employment in another country.
Most educated Greeks migrate to the United Kingdom, while Germany and the Netherlands follow as migration choices. Overall, economy and finance graduates are snatched by British companies, Germany attracts people in the medical profession, while engineers go to the Middle East.