From 2007 to 2011, emigration grew drastically in Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece and grew moderately in Italy. Combined with a decline in immigration rates, this growth has turned Ireland, Spain and Portugal into net emigration countries. In turn, Greece and Italy are facing increased population outflows.
To a certain extent, the financial crisis has returned these countries to their traditional emigration profiles. Most emigrants are foreign nationals because unemployment rates are usually higher among this demographic. However, some reports suggest that substantial numbers of Spanish, Irish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek nationals, particularly those with higher educations, are moving abroad.
Despite the financial crisis, Greek emigration and immigration are balanced. The high rate of immigration to Greece is explained by two factors. Many immigrants see Greece as a key entry point to the European Union — and thus into countries participating in the Schengen Treaty, which allows the free movement of people across borders. Because of this, immigration from the Balkan countries and Turkey has remained high despite the economic crisis in Greece. In addition, increased immigration controls in other countries traditionally used for entering Europe, such as Spain and Italy, have relegated Greece to one of the only serviceable entry points. But many immigrants lack the resources to continue moving once inside Greece. This situation is currently creating social tensions as Greeks and foreigners compete in a contracting labor market.
Greece technically became a net emigration country in 2010. Germany is the major destination for many emigrants, followed by the United States and Australia, where there are large Greek communities. According to Germany's Federal Statistics Office, there was an 84 percent increase in Greek migration to Germany during the first quarter of 2011.