The Greek Brain Drain: The New Pattern of Greek Emigration During the Recent Crisis

23 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2022

See all articles by Sophia Lazaretou

Sophia Lazaretou

Bank of Greece - Economic Research Department

Date Written: July 22, 2022


During the ongoing crisis in Greece, the phenomenon of human capital flight, commonly known as “brain drain”, has grown to large proportions. Between 2008 and 2013, almost 223 thousand Greek residents aged 25-39, whether foreign-born or native, left the country permanently for more advanced economies, in search of employment, better pay and better social and economic prospects. This represents more than half of the overall migration outflow (427 thousand) for the population aged 15-64 over the same period. The trend has remained upward in the last couple of years. Common finding is that the new wave of migration concerns young, single and high-skilled persons. The most important underlying factors include high unemployment, the current difficult economic situation and a lack of policy focus on promoting excellence and providing opportunities for advancement. The intensity and strong dynamics of the phenomenon point to an urgent need, first, to delineate its various aspects and patterns and map its characteristics; second, to explore the reasons why the Greek brain drain has emerged at the current juncture; and, third, to identify its impacts on the domestic economy. This paper attempts to answer these questions and derive policy recommendations that could be useful for containing or even reversing the phenomenon. The main findings of our research are the following. First, data show that the brain drain has been a symptom of the recent crisis, during which it has developed strong dynamics in terms of size, intensity and duration. Second, the emigration flow concerns that part of the domestic workforce which is young, healthy, well-educated and skilled, and highly mobile. Third, although the deep and prolonged recession has triggered the manifestation of the phenomenon, its underlying factors should be sought not only in the recent negative macroeconomic environment, but also in the long-standing weaknesses of the domestic production paradigm. Fourth, as additional explaining factors, one should not overlook the weaknesses of the domestic education system and the inability of the domestic economy to attract and retain talent.

Keywords: Greece, brain drain, recession, production paradigm

JEL Classification: E60, O15

Suggested Citation

Lazaretou, Sophia, The Greek Brain Drain: The New Pattern of Greek Emigration During the Recent Crisis (July 22, 2022). Bank of Greece Economic Bulletin, Issue 43, Article 3, Available at SSRN:

Sophia Lazaretou (Contact Author)

Bank of Greece - Economic Research Department ( email )

21 E. Venizelos Avenue
GR 102 50 Athens

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