E.g., 09/17/2019
E.g., 09/17/2019

The Changing Face of Emigration: Harnessing the Potential of the New Greek Diaspora

December 2015

The Changing Face of Emigration: Harnessing the Potential of the New Greek Diaspora

Over the course of the 20th century, Greece experienced two periods of large-scale emigration—one at the century’s start and the other in the post-World War II years. Both waves consisted of primarily low-skilled, low-educated workers seeking unskilled or semi-skilled jobs abroad. By the 1970s a booming economy had transformed Greece into a migrant-receiving country, with the government introducing repatriation incentives to entice its nationals abroad to return. 

Now, in the wake of the devastating economic crisis that began in 2008, Greece is once again experiencing emigration—but this time, emigrants are mostly well-educated youth escaping extremely high youth unemployment levels. These outflows, combined with simultaneous inflows of unauthorized migrants, pose a fresh set of challenges for Greek policymakers. 

This Transatlantic Council on Migration report examines Greek emigration, and its economic implications, before exploring policy directions to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of this mobility. It discusses institutional reforms that can create more and better opportunities in Greece, thereby stemming outflows and rendering return an attractive option, and then turns its attention to diaspora engagement policies to harness the assets, skills, and knowledge of Greeks abroad to enhance development at home.

Table of Contents 

I.    Introduction

II.    Historical Overview and Demographic Trends

A.     Historical Overview

B.     Current Demographic Trends

III.    Policy Overview: Structural Reforms and Diaspora Engagement

A.     Structural Reforms and Economic Incentives

B.     Diaspora Engagement

IV.    Conclusions and Policy Recommendations