The number of women of reproductive age in Greece is declining

The number of women of reproductive age in Greece has entered a phase of decline, which will continue, accompanied by a further decrease in the number of births.

Given that regardless of the impact of the recent pandemic, an increase in the number of deaths due to population aging is expected in the coming years, the balance of births and deaths will remain negative for the next two decades.

The obvious conclusion suggests itself: in the coming years, without an influx of foreigners, the rate of change in the population of our country will remain sharply negative. This data is the result of a study by Panteion University Demography Professor Christos Bagavos and is presented in the latest digital edition of the FlashNews series, produced by the ELIDEK program funded and implemented by ELKE University of Thessaly.

Three time periods

Mr. Bagavos distinguishes three time periods in which the evolution of fertility proceeds in different ways.

  • The first concerns 1975-1980, when, with a 4% decrease in the birth rate (from 2.33 to 2.23 children/woman), the number of births increases by 4% (from 142,000 to 148,000).
  • The second for the period 1990-1999, when, with a decrease in the birth rate by 12% (from 1.39 to 1.23 children / woman), the number of births remains relatively constant (100 – 102 thousand).
  • The third period covers 2013-2020, where an 11% decrease in the birth rate is combined with a weak growth trend, the level of which in 2020 is about 7% higher than in 2013. The decline in the number of women of reproductive age began before the financial crisis and has already had an reducing effect on the evolution of the number of births to date.

This decline is a consequence, on the one hand, of a significant decline in the birth rate in the 1980s (a decrease of more than 30% between 1980 and 1990), and on the other hand, of immigration (the departure of young people of reproductive age from our country).

In other words, according to the author of the study, the decrease in the number of births should not be explained only by a decrease in the birth rate during the period coinciding with the economic crisis, even if this crisis had not occurred. According to Mr. Bagavos, the decline in fertility between 2008 and 2020 is due to a 77% reduction in the number of women aged 15-49 and only a 23% decline in the birth rate.

What are the prospects for the evolution of the number of births in the coming years?

The results of the EUROSTAT 2019 population projections, which were prepared before the recent pandemic but take into account the economic crisis, show that even though we have positive growth figures (260 thousand people in the period 2020-2040), the number of women of reproductive age will decrease by more than by 20%. This will lead to a 13% decrease in the birth rate from 2020 to 2030 and some stabilization of the situation (-1%) from 2030 to 2040.

If we do not accept one of the scenarios of Eurostat’s forecasts for fertility (an increase in its indicators for the twenty years 2020-2040 by 7%), says Mr. Bagavos, then this decline in fertility will simply slow down without stopping (the birth rate will decrease by 10% in the period from 2020 to 2040 2030 and increase by only 2% between 2030 and 2040).


The author in the same work also raises the question of whether a further reduction in the birth rate can be avoided in the coming years so that it remains at around 85,000. To reach this mark, an increase in the birth rate from 1.4 children per woman in 2020 to 1 is required. 6 in 2040, which is twice the hypothesis adopted in the Eurostat forecasts for 2019 (pre-pandemic forecasts). According to him, such an increase is unlikely, since the dynamics of fertility indices in the decade we are experiencing will probably depend on the pandemic, and it is possible that fertility indices will move not up, but, on the contrary, down. As a result, in 2020-2040. we will see even fewer births than we would in the absence of the health crisis.

Commenting on these results in the APE-MPE, Professor of Demography and Scientific Director of the above-mentioned research program Mr. Byron Kotzamanis stated: “Our country will not grow in the next two decades, even if these young people decide to have more children than their parents. Thus, the decline due to the negative balance of fertility and mortality of our population in the next two decades will be even greater compared to 2011-2020, since mortality will exceed the birth rate. And if the balance continues to be negative (as in the previous decade), then the population of Greece will decrease in the period from 2021 to 2040 by more than 950 thousand, which will be the expected cumulative superiority over these twenty years of deaths over births … “.

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