This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Greek Brain Drain

One of the not-so-surprising side-effects of the budget crisis in Greece has been that younger Greeks are bailing out, creating a brain drain. We expect that those with the most salable skills are likely to be the ones to go elsewhere when the economy collapses. But what is especially surprising, according to a story today on MSNBC, is where they are heading.

Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse and a country which has been criticized by many Greeks over its harsh demands for austerity cuts in return for bailout cash, has experienced an influx of young skilled immigrants.
Der Spiegel magazine noted that while Greek newspapers "printed cartoons depicting the Germans as Nazis, concentration camp guards and eurozone imperialists who allow their debtors to bleed to death," the Greeks have kept arriving – bringing an "anything is better than Athens" attitude with them.
With more than 50 percent of young Greeks out of work, it's not surprising that official statistics show the number of Greeks who moved to Germany increased 90 percent during 2011.
Unemployment rates have consistently been shrinking in Germany in recent years and the economy is thriving despite Europe's ongoing financial crisis. Relaxed cross-border employment regulations for member states of the European Union also make Germany an attractive choice for job seekers. And while Germany is in need of specialized workers, the Greek labor market has little to offer.

This turn of events is generally good for those Greeks who can find work in Germany, although in the long term the demographic shift will clearly benefit German society at the continued expense of Greece. These younger Greeks will help to pay the pensions for aging Germans, but they will be contributing little if anything to the Greek economy. Of course, to the extent that Germany's economy is bailing out Greece, the transfer of labor power from Greece (where they wouldn't be working) to Germany (where they are more likely to be working) is probably an economically good situation.

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