Hu­man cap­i­tal Greece’s No1 ex­port

Brain drain since 2008 has gen­er­ated more than 50 bln eu­ros for host coun­tries

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Roughly 350,000 Greeks, mostly highly ed­u­cated, are es­ti­mated to have moved abroad since 2008, mak­ing hu­man cap­i­tal Greece’s num­ber one ex­port, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by En­deavor, a global non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion spe­cial­iz­ing in “high-im­pact” en­trepreneur­ship.

Re­ly­ing on data col­lected from host coun­tries and lo­cal re­search, the re­port says that Greece’s brain drain gen­er­ates, an­nu­ally, an equiv­a­lent of 12.9 bil­lion eu­ros in GDP and 9.1 bil­lion in taxes for the hosts, while it has gen­er­ated more than 50 bil­lion eu­ros since 2008.

The an­nual ex­port of hu­man cap­i­tal, the re­port says, ranks first in value, at 12.9 bil­lion eu­ros, above oil prod­ucts (7.2 bil­lion) and alu­minum prod­ucts (1.3 bil­lion), among oth­ers.

The brain drain that has af­flicted Greece since the on­set of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis is also mak­ing it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for “high growth” com­pa­nies to keep tal­ented staff at home and to at­tract ex­pats. The main rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to En­deavor, are the “high non-salary costs that fur­ther re­duce al­ready low salaries, the lack of ca­reer growth op­tions and the lack of coun­try-level ‘growth nar­ra­tive’ and plan.”

Tellingly, 49 per­cent of em­ployed Greeks “are more will­ing to leave the coun­try in search of bet­ter ca­reer growth po­ten­tial and a more sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment than the un­em­ployed (43 per­cent).”

The re­port urges a re­ver­sal of the trend not­ing, how­ever, that the brain drain could, in the long run, bring back know-how and in­no­va­tive ideas – that is if these 350,000 Greeks ever re­turn.

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