Brain Drain: 450,000 Greeks Left the Country in Past 8 Years

Almost 450,000 Greeks left the country in the 2008-2016 period, depriving Greece of brain power while at the same time contributing to the aging of the population.

The figures were presented on Tuesday, during the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference discussing the state of the labor market and emigration of Greeks to search for work abroad.

According to the speakers, Greece is a country aging very rapidly, while the biggest problem it faces imminently is the “brain drain,” the approximately 450,000 natives who left Greece during the 2008-2016 period to seek employment in other countries. The brain drain Greeks have yielded to the economies of these countries, particularly the United Kingdom and Germany, is 50 billion euros.

“These people are mostly under 45 years old. Their return should be a national target,” said former ministers Anna Diamantopoulou and Yiannis Vroutsis, discussing” The role of government in attracting and retaining talent to maintain the country’s competitive advantage.”

Anna Diamantopoulou, former education minister and head of the Network for Reform in Greece and Europe, stressed the importance to cooperate and establish synergies with other countries, such as Denmark that has a very well organized farming sector.

Former labor minister Yiannis Vroutsis said on his part that there would be much less unemployment if necessary reforms were made before the outbreak of the crisis and that unemployment would exceed 30% if Greece had not promoted specific reforms in the years 2012-2014.

Vroutsis said that the term “flexibility” in the labor market was terrifying in Greece when elsewhere in Europe it was common practice. He argued that labor laws give the state great powers, sometimes to the detriment of companies and businesses, while the Trade Union Act in many cases leads to the abuse of the right to strike.