The Greek government has initiated a reward system that will see the parents of newborn babies being given a €2000 baby bonus in an attempt to reverse the country’s demographic decline.
Years of austerity and emigration from Greece are being compounded by low birthrates and a rapidly aging population, with 36% of the country expected to be over the age of 65 by 2050.
In 1970, just 7% of Greeks were in that age bracket, but with estimates suggesting Greece could lose one third of its 10.7 million population in the next thirty years, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is taking affirmative action now.
Many young professionals were among the 500,000 people who left Greece between 2010 and 2015, a reality that has only contributed to the country’s economic stagnation and demographic winter.
In 2016, the birth rate was 8.5 per 1000 people, well below replacement levels, whilst the death rate outstripped that at 11.2 per 1000 people.
The latest attempt to reverse that trend is expected to cost €180m per annum, with the baby bonus scheme being open to both EU citizens and non-EU residents, an indication that legislators there are hopeful migrants will fill an ever-growing void in the Greek economy.
Already this year, the government has been forced into announcing the closure of 14 playschools and nine primary schools in the Attica region alone, whilst over 1,700 schools closed nationwide between 2009 and 2014.
With a faltering social security system that’s expected to cater for an aging population, the realistic prospect of only 3.7 million workers propping it up in thirty years time has prompted radical action, but whether it’s too late for Greece remains to be seen.