ECONOMY

Millions living in poverty zone

More than 3 million Greeks (27.7 percent, or over one in four) were living below the poverty line or in a state of social exclusion in 2009, the second year of the country?s recession, according to a report by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

Moreover, during the same period, a quarter (25.5 percent) of those above the poverty line lived in homes that did not satisfy their needs, while 27.8 percent said that they had a hard time covering their housing expenses.

The number of people living in households with no full-time workers soared to 544,800 in 2009 from 488,200 in 2008, while 50 percent of those below the poverty line had an annual income of more than 5,498.35 euros. As of this year, the tax-free ceiling has been reduced to just 5,000 euros.

In terms of income imbalance, Greece ranked seventh among the 27 members of the European Union, with the richest fifth of the population having an income 5.6 times larger than the poorest fifth, illustrating that the country?s social benefit system is not sufficient.