NEWS

3.4 million Greeks near poverty line in 2011, Eurostat reports

Thirty-one percent of Greece's population was living near the poverty line in 2011 and 15.2 percent was just scraping by on a small income, the European Statistical Agency, Eurostat, said in a report released on Monday.

The percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion ranks Greece behind Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania in the European Union rankings, which assess people as being on the poverty threshold when they are living on 60 percent less than the national average disposal income.

More specifically, the Eurostat report said that in 2011, 3.4 million people in Greece were living at risk of poverty and social exclusion, or 31 percent of the population, compared to 27.7 percent in 2010 and 28.1 percent in 2008.

In the European Union as a whole, 119.6 million people lived on the poverty line in 2011, or 24.2 percent of the population, compared to 23.4 percent in 2010 and 23.5 percent in 2008.

The highest percentage of people at risk last year was in Bulgaria (49 percent), Romania and Latvia (40 percent) and Lithuania (33 percent). Hungary ranked together with Greece at 31 percent.

The lowest poverty level was recorded in the Czech Republic (15 percent), Luxembourg and Austria (17 percent), and the Netherlands and Sweden (16 percent).

As far as the percentage of the Greek population that was unable to cover its needs for basic commodities in 2011 is concerned, Eurostat found that 15.2 percent fell into this bracket, or nearly double the EU average of 8.8 percent.

This bracket includes people who cannot afford the following: rent and debt servicing; heating; unexpected expenses; a meal of meat or fish every two days; a week-long holiday away from home; a car; a washing machine; a color television and a telephone.

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