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Greece's population has declined by up to half a million since 2011

The four regional units with a significant increase (greater than 6 pct) were all islands with reception centres for refugees and migrants (Dodecanese islands, Chios, Lesvos and Samos).

Greece's population has been declining constantly after 2010 and the census currently taking place will confirm this, showing that the permanent residents of the country will be up to half a million fewer than at the time of the last census in 2011, according to a paper published by professors Vasilis Pappas and Vyronas Kotzamanis of the Patras and Thessaly universities, respectively.

Citing estimates published by Greece's statistic s agency for the nine years from 2011 to 2020, they noted that the population of permanent residents in Greece shrunk 3.7 pct or 405,000 people, though this decrease was not evenly distributed in all areas, with population increasing in 12 of the country's 51 regional units.

The four regional units with a significant increase (greater than 6 pct) were all islands with reception centres for refugees and migrants (Dodecanese islands, Chios, Lesvos and Samos). Of the remaining 39 regional units, eight saw a substantial decline in population exceeding 7 pct and these were all remote mountainous areas of mainland Greece.

The balance of births to deaths was net negative in the last nine years, by up to 223,000 on a nationwide basis, with only six regional units showing a net positive balance (Dodecanese islands, Cyclades islands, Xanthi, Chania, Heraklion and Rethymno) that in total did not exceed 12,000 people. Of these, only four had a net increase of population, as net negative migration led to a slight population decline in the Cyclades islands and Xanthi.

For one in three regional units on the mainland, both the births-to-deaths and migration balances were net negative. For 20 regional units, all on the mainland, there was a positive migration balance but this was not sufficient to offset the losses of the births-to-deaths balance, leading to a shrinking population. In eight areas, a net positive migration balance was sufficiently large as to offset losses from lower births to deaths, so that population in these areas increased.

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), Prof. Kotzamanis said the change in population in coming years will be largely determined by the migration balance since the births to deaths ratio is not expected to change significantly. Consequently, he said, if the migration balance on a national level changes from net negative to roughly zero (with as many people leaving Greece as those that settle in the country), in 20 years time there will be rougly one million fewer people than there are at present.

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