ECONOMY

Greece still EU’s poverty leader

Greece led the poverty scale among its European peers once more last year, with 23.1 percent of its population being under threat of poverty, according to data published on Monday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

Taking into account the share of the population facing social exclusion, i.e. lacking at least four of the nine basic commodities, poverty levels in Greece soared to 35.7 percent, second only to Bulgaria’s 48 percent.

Another worrying figure was the inequality within Greece, as the richer 20 percent of the population had an income that was 6.6 times higher than that of the poorer 20 percent. This is the biggest income gap in Europe.

ELSTAT set the poverty level for 2013 at 5,023 euros per person and at 10,547 euros for a family of four, based on 2012 annual income data. In 2008 the poverty level had been set at 6,897.30 euros per person.

Under threat of poverty last year were 2,529,005 people in 892,763 households, i.e. 23.1 percent, compared with 20.1 percent in 2010. The population under the threat of poverty and social exclusion numbered 3,903,800, or 35.7 percent in 2013, up from 3,795,100 people or 34.6 percent in 2012. In 2009 the rate had amounted to 27.6 percent.

According to the data, 29.4 percent of Greeks could not afford satisfactory heating, while 27.3 percent of households has an inadequate amount of living space. The minimum average net monthly income for the country’s households to cover basic needs came to 1,784 euros. Households below the poverty line required 1,428 euros and those above 1,879 euros per month.

More than half of the households in poverty (57.9 percent) said they were unable to pay for their utilities, while 41.5 percent of them could not afford a diet that would include every other day chicken or meat or fish or vegetables of the same nutritional value. Even 4.7 percent of households above the poverty level could not meet this need.