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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Athens - Far Too Large A City?

In a recent commentary, reference was made to the fact that nearly half of the Greek population lives in Athens. I used to think that it was a lot less than that but let's just assume for the purpose of the below argument that this is so.

If the same ratio were applied to other European capitals, here are some examples:

* Paris would have a population of 34 million (instead of 2 million)
* London would have a population of 33 million (instead of 8 million)
* Berlin would have a population of 41 million (instead of 4 million)
* Madrid would have a population of 23 million (instead of 3 million)
* Rome would have a population of 30 million (instead of 3 million)

Etc., etc.

Of all the structural weaknesses of the Greek economy, the undue concentration of the population in the capital of Athens seems definitely one of them. Permit me a naíve question: what are so many people doing in the capital? What are the productive venues they can pursue there?

The definition of the problem is always the easy part, the difficulty begins when one starts looking for solutions. Still, it would seem high time for a Greek government to study alternatives for 'de-centralizing' Greece's population in an economically profitable way.

2 comments:

  1. The City of Athens has a population of <700.000, whereas the Metropolitan Area of Athens has a population of 3 million. The region of Attica has a population of 3.7 million, i.e. 1/3 of the country’s population. It has to be pointed out that the Region of Attica accounts for nearly half of the country’s GDP ($110 bln out $230 bln).
    In comparison, the City of Paris has a population of 2 million and the Metropolitan Area of Paris (Île-de-France) has a population of 12.5 million, i.e 20% of Sweden’s population. Île-de-France accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP ($700 bln out of $2850 bln).
    The City of Stockholm has a population of about 1 million and the Metropolitan Area of Stockholm has a population of 2 million, i.e 20% of Sweden’s population. The County of Stockholm accounts for 30% of the country’s GDP ($170 bln out of $570 bln).
    The City of Lisbon has a population of about 0.5 million and the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon has a population of 2.8 million, i.e 27% of Portugal’s population. The Metropolitan Area of Lisbon accounts for 30% of the country’s GDP (€65 bln out of €215 bln).
    I‘ve also looked up other medium-size EU countries and their capitals (Belgium, Czechia and Hungary) and Athens/Attica seem to be off the charts when it comes to its influence on the national economy. Athens’ influence is similar to the one of the capital cities in small-size EU countries (Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Estonia etc.).
    To many, this situation proves that Athens is Greece’s greatest asset (along perhaps with the islands), whereas others believe that it only proves the Greek state’s centralization for almost a century.
    To the best of my knowledge, the only good idea for decentralization, which has been presented recently, is the collection of ENFIA by the municipalities.
    http://www.ekathimerini.com/232655/article/ekathimerini/news/mitsotakis-proposes-enfia-collection-by-municipalities
    In the decade of 2010 Greece saw two major private investment projects: Cosco in Piraeus and the TAP pipeline in Northern Greece. This might be a ray of hope since it is foreseen to produce further investment (namely the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria Pipeline and a floating LNG unit in Alexandroupoli). Other than that, the state-funded flagship projects are focused on Athens (Olympic Games 2004, New Museum of Acropolis). The same applies (to a great extent, although not exclusively) for the large donations of private foundations (the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the New Art Museum of Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation).

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  2. Totally off topic:

    Do you know anything about German financial shenanigans at the time of the Euro Start ?

    http://www.ekathimerini.com/239408/opinion/ekathimerini/comment/greece-needs-the-new-generation-of-its-diaspora#comment-4418738190

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