National Productivity Board. 2023. | ISSN 2732-9305 (Print) ISSN: 2732-9313 (Online)

The Greek economy has fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the initial inflationary pressures, that were caused by a multitude of internal and external factors, have subsided. Therefore, Greece is currently geared up, not only for normal growth, but possibly for a takeoff, under the condition that penned up investment and demand −after more than a decade of crisis and slow growth− are brought forward.

During 2022, the total factor productivity (TFP) of the Greek economy increased by 2.9% (in terms of hours worked) and by 3.8% (in terms of persons employed). The TFP growth of the Greek economy reached that of the EA19 and the EU27, as between the year before the pandemic (2019) and the current year (2023), it grew about three times more than the EA19 and EU27 average. Besides, labour productivity per hour worked increased by 0.3% and labour productivity per person employed increased by 2.0%. However, the difference in labour productivity between the Greek economy and the European economy, both in terms of persons employed and hours worked, remained essentially unchanged over the period 2019-2023. Namely, Greek labour productivity in terms of persons employed is around 61% of the EU27 average and 55% of the EA19 average. Similarly, Greek labour productivity in hours worked is around 49% of the EU27 average and 43% of the EA19 average.

Crucial for the materialisation of the expected growth dynamics of the Greek economy is, on the one hand, the increase in labour utilisation, a key factor considering the medium- to long-term adverse effects of population aging, and, on the other hand, the significant increase in fixed capital investment, particularly, in the business and high-technology sector of the economy. Regarding the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), its impact is expected to yield significant economic output (13.7 billion euro) and employment opportunities (about 400,000 jobs), namely, a growth of 8.3% in output and 10.5% in employment, compared to Greece’s 2020 GDP and employment levels. Nevertheless, our analysis suggests that the RRP may not be entirely aligned with Greece’s long-term strategic objectives, due to the overreliance on a limited set of sectors, mostly, Construction, which cannot sufficiently support the broader goals of sustainable productivity, reduced dependence on imports and substantial limitation of CO2 emissions. For this reason, a revision of RRP is suggested to boost productivity in a robust way and without compromising on environmental goals. It is also noted that Construction was the sector that experienced the highest labour productivity growth in the Greek economy during the period 2020-2022.

Recent developments stress the amelioration of the cost/price competitive position of the Greek economy relative to the EA19. Specifically, the Consumer Price Index (CPI)−based Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER) slightly decreased in 2022 for fourth consecutive year. The Unit Labour Cost in the total economy (ULCT)−based REER also decreased in 2022 for second consecutive year, reaching its lowest point during 2010-2022. The Unit Labour Cost (ULC) also decreased in 2022 for second consecutive year, while it was increased in the EA19 and the EU27. The relative ULC decreased by 1.7 p.p. in 2022, compared to 2021. However, the war in Ukraine (and the Middle East), the surge in energy prices, persistent inflation, the increased cost of borrowing for businesses and households, the deterioration in the current account balance, demographic change, technological backwardness and the more frequent natural disasters due to climate change pose additional challenges to the Greek economy. Besides, as reflects the Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI), all the Greek regions reside at the end of the scale, with persistent core-periphery difference (between the region of Attiki and the rest of the regions).

Furthermore, the report stresses that Greek firms need to accelerate their efforts towards digital transformation with a special focus on Industry 4.0 technologies. For this purpose, several actions are proposed, including the acceleration of knowledge transfer, cooperation and partnerships between business and universities, the transformation of AI publications into high impact AI projects, AI software and applications through venture capital funding schemes. Moreover, Greek firms should take actions to manage the environmental footprint associated with the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and reinforce the circular economy. A wide range of policies should also be considered to reduce inequalities while increasing productivity growth. Such policies may encompass the acquisition and development of skills, labour market reforms, robust social protection measures, affordable financing of small-scale entrepreneurship and support of technology transfer and inter-firm linkages for export promotion. Finally, the extension of bank credit can help to sustain higher levels of both TFP and the GDP growth.

Full Report