Endeavor Greece Report: Human Capital is Greece’s #1 exported “product”

19 July 2016

Endeavor Greece, global non-profit organization supporting high-impact entrepreneurship, reports on the added value and tax income generated in receiving countries by the Greeks that moved abroad during the crisis (2008-2016).

According to data from the receiving countries and local research, the estimated figure for brain drain since January 2008 is between 350,000 (Endeavor estimate) and 427,000 (BoG estimate).

According to Endeavor research, these individuals, typically highly educated, generate annually in receiving countries (mainly Germany and UK) an equivalent of €12.9bn in GDP and €9.1bn in taxes, of which €7.9bn in income taxes and contributions and €1.2bn in VAT. In total, since 2008, Greek expats have generated more than €50bn of GDP in their new “home” countries.

It is notable that the Greek State has invested more than €8bn in educating Greek expats while in Greece.

It is impressive that today, among all exported “products” of Greece, human capital ranks first in value with €12,9b, followed by oil products (€7.2bn), aluminum products (€1.3bn), drugs (€0.7bn), olive oil (€0.5b.), fish, olives, tobacco, information systems and cheese (€0.4b.), cotton and peaches (€0.3b.). While the exports value returns to Greece, Greek expats mainly and in the short/mid-term work for the benefit of their receiving countries.

It is worth mentioning that already employed Greeks (49%) are more willing to leave the country in search of better career growth potential and a more stable environment than unemployed (43%). Brain drain grows to become the main concern of high growth companies as they find it increasingly difficult to keep talent in Greece or motivate expats to return. Key reasons are the high non-salary costs that further reduce the already low salary levels, the lack of career growth options and the lack of country-level ‘growth narrative’ and plan.

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In the long-run, human capital that has left the country will bring back know-how and innovative ideas and help local market grow. But first, we need to reverse the brain drain drivers and offer these people the opportunity to work in healthy high-growth companies or create their own ventures, leveraging the experience and knowledge acquired globally.