About one in every three Greeks runs the risk of poverty or social exclusion, a rate that keeps Greece on a par with Bulgaria and Romania and far below countries such as Finland and the Czech Republic in the European Union.
Greece is also in the same category as its EU Balkan peers in terms of the rate of people suffering from material deprivation, while economic inequality in the country is less severe than last year.
The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data published yesterday regarding Greece’s performance in these fields may have shown some improvement in the last few years, as the country is emerging from its deep financial crisis, but it remains quite disheartening, especially given that the government has focused its economic policy on these fronts through its social handouts.
The rate of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion came to 31.8 percent in 2017, amounting to 3,348,500 people, down from 34.8 percent in 2016. The European Union defines this category as people who are either at risk of poverty, or severely materially deprived or living in a household with a very low work intensity.
People at risk of poverty are those earning less than 60 percent of the country’s average income per person; that threshold stood at 4,178 euros per person in 2017, or 9,908 euros per household with two adults and two dependent children. The average income was estimated at 15,556 euros.
The ELSTAT data also showed that more than half of households are unable to cover an emergency expense (51.4 percent) or have a one-week holiday (50.7 percent). Nearly one in four (22.9 percent) cannot afford satisfactory heating and 11.8 percent face nutrition deprivation.
The economic inequality index stood at 5.5, which means that the income share of the richest 20 percent of the population is five-and-a-half times greater than that of the poorest 20 percent. This is down from 6 the previous year.