Stocks of Migrants in Greece
According to the 2011 national census data, there were 713,000 third country nationals and 199,000 non-Greek EU citizens living in Greece accounting for 6.5 percent and 1.8 percent of the total resident population, respectively. Albanians constituted by far the largest immigrant group (480,000, or 60 percent of the foreign population), followed by Bulgarians (75,000), Romanians (46,000), Pakistanis (34,000), Georgians (27,000), Ukrainians (17,000) and Poles (14,000).
Table 1: Stock of foreign population in Greece, 2011
|Size of immigrant stock||% of total resident population|
|Total TCN population||713,000||6.59|
|Total EU population (non-Greeks)||199,000||1.84|
|Total immigrant stock||912,000||8.43|
|Total population of Greece||10,815,197||100.00|
Source: National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE), National Census 2011, data published September 2013.
There are two groups of foreign-born Greek citizens – who could be considered as immigrants sociologically (in the sense of facing discrimination in the labor market, ethnic prejudice and exclusion), but who have naturalized under preferential citizenship acquisition paths and hence do not appear in Table 2.
Table 2: Composition of the migrant population
|Labor Force Survey 4th trimester 2012||TCN valid residence permits December 2012|
|Country of Origin||Number||Percentage||Number||Percentage|
Sources: National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE), Labor Force Survey 4th trimester 2012; Ministry of Interior, Valid Residence Permits on 31 December 2012.
The first group is that of Greek co-ethnics from Albania (also known in Greece as Voreioepirotes). They hold special identity cards for Omogeneis (co-ethnics) (EDTO) issued by the Greek police and have the same socio-economic rights as Greek citizens. EDTO holders are not included in the database of the Interior Ministry. During the last three years, EDTO holders have been encouraged by the Ministry of Interior to naturalize and many have done so. In addition, the Ministry of Interior has started cross-checking the previously issued special identity cards and hence many were cancelled as people did not live in Greece any more. The result has been that the number of EDTO identity card holders has decreased from approx. 197,000 in December 2009 to only 6,509 in December 2011 (see also section on
The second group is ‘returnees’ from the former Soviet Republics, generally referred to as Pontic Greeks who arrived in Greece in the late 1980s and early 1990s as economic migrants. They are officially considered as ‘returnees’ to the ‘motherland’ even though they or their ancestors had never lived within the boundaries of the modern Greek state. According to the special census administered by the General Secretariat for Repatriated Co-Ethnics in the year 2000, 155,319 Pontic Greeks had settled in the country. More than half of them (about 80,000) came from Georgia, 31,000 came from Kazakhstan, 23,000 from Russia, and about 9,000 from Armenia.
Flows of Migrants in Greece
Data on effective inflows and outflows of immigrants in Greece are based on the issuing and renewal (or not) of residence permits but are not accurate as hardly any immigrants enter Greece legally (see discussion on migration policy further below). However, data on residence permits do give an indication of the actual trend in terms of inflows and outflows and also in terms of the possible de-legalization of migrants who previously had a legal status.
Figure 1 presents the legal migrant stock in Greece from January 2005 to December 2012, excluding seasonal migrant workers. The data is based on the Ministry of Interior’s database of residence permits. The highest number of legal migrants present in Greece was registered in December 2009, with more than 600,000 valid permits. Since then, there is a continuous decrease in the number of valid residence permits, which fell to just over 550,000 at the end of 2010
Socio-Economic Features of the Immigrant Population
A look at the purpose of third country nationals’ stay in Greece (see Figure 2) shows that 45 percent of male immigrants hold permits that allow them to reside for ten years or an indefinite period in Greece. These are subsumed under the category "other purposes" in Figure 2. Thirty-one percent of male immigrants are in possession of residence permits for family purposes, followed by residence permits for employment purposes (23 percent). The vast majority of female immigrants hold family reunification permits (65 percent) followed by ten-year or indefinite duration permits (23 percent) and employment permits (11 percent). For both sexes, student permits are considerably lower in number.
Regarding the settled immigrant population, it is worth noting that at the end of 2012, there were 107,000 people holding a ten-year or indefinite duration residence permit. Long-term permits have increased significantly in the last six years. In 2012, the number of such permits had increased by 42 percent compared to 2011, but still accounted for only about one quarter of the total legal migrant population, standing at 440,000 at the end of 2012.
As in previous years, the gender composition of the migrant population remains imbalanced – men are much more numerous than women (see Figure 3). However, this imbalance varies among groups. For instance, nationalities like Ukrainians, Bulgarians or Georgians include more women than men (70 percent women for Ukrainians and Bulgarians, 60 percent for Georgians) while Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are predominantly men (90 percent approximately).
Table 3: Valid long-term permits, 2007-2012
|Total permits of ten-year or indefinite duration||821||34,296||45,998||62,312||75,377||107,080|
Source: Ministry of Interior database on residence permits, author’s own compilation.
As far as the educational level of the migrant population is concerned (see Figure 4), the educational profile of EU citizens is largely similar to that of natives as regards primary education. But they include higher shares with secondary or technical education (indeed a type of education that was quite common in Communist countries) and lower proportions who have attended university than natives. By contrast, immigrants from non-EU countries are overall less educated than natives or EU citizens with significantly higher levels who have finished only lower middle school (the obligatory schooling). The percentage of third country nationals with a university diploma is also quite low. Despite these differences in educational qualifications between non-EU migrants and EU citizens, we should note that the sectors of migrant employment in Greece are generally the same for both groups (construction, agriculture, other low-skill jobs, transport services for men; cleaning, caring, catering, tourism for women).
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