Poverty is one of the most basic problems Greece faces today. According to European Commission data, 21% of our fellow-citizens (2.2 million people) survive on an income below the threshold of 60% of national median income.
Greece and Ireland have the highest poverty rate in the 15-member EU, while Sweden has the lowest at 9%. It is estimated that there are over 70 million people at risk of poverty in Europe.
In Greece, the percentage of the population at risk of poverty is 20% with EU funding, rising to 23% without it.
33% of poor people in Greece are over 65, as pensioners are one of the social groups (along with single-parent families, the unemployed, immigrants and young people) which suffer most from low income and high cost of living.
In Greece, a single-member household is considered to be at risk of poverty when annual income does not exceed € 4,264 (an unacceptably low amount considering realistic estimates of the cost of living in Greece), asagainst € 9,455 in Germany and 13,863 in Luxemburg. The average in the 15-member EU is € 8.319. For a household of four, the amount rises to € 8.955 as against € 19,855 in Germany and € 17,469 in the 15-member EU.
At first place in the social inequality stakes are the regions of Epirus, with 37% of the population living below the poverty threshold, Central Greece with 32%, and the Peloponnese and Western Greece with 31%.
Although there has been significant economic development in Greece in the past 30 years, groups at risk of poverty have not kept up, as only “20.4% of increased consumption benefited the poor, while 79.6% went to the privileged”. One in three citizens often cannot pay the rent or loan instalments on time, eat meat or fish every other day or afford sufficient heating at home.
The government has announced that it will set up a National Social Cohesion Fund. While this would certainly be a step in the right direction, it is not enough to deal with a problem on this scale.
60% of Greeks are afraid of waking up to find themselves poor
Almost 60% of Greeks are afraid of falling into the poverty trap in the next few years. This insecurity is directly related to the fact that 50% believe that one can become poor due to some chance event. This is reinforced by the fact that 68.8% of Greeks believe that the way the modern world is going and social unfairness make it inevitable that the poor will exist.
€ 933.7 is the psychological threshold dividing rich from poor, according to the poor themselves, who would “cross themselves off the poor list” if they could secure that amount.