ECONOMY

Most immigrants well-educated

Most immigrants living and working in the Athens area are quite well-educated and speak another language besides their own and Greek, a survey jointly conducted by the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Labor and Panteion University shows. The great majority of immigrants are employed and are not looking for a second job. However, 21 percent of them are uninsured and the majority consider the income they earn too low. The greatest part of their earnings is used to cover essential expenses and to send money to relatives back in the home country. Most immigrants relied on networks of friends and relatives to find employment. A large number, though, used private employment agencies. While slightly more than half (52 percent) said they were seriously considering living permanently in Greece, and 57 percent would like to make Greece their permanent home, 54 percent replied that they felt that Greeks do not want immigrants to settle here and 63 percent felt that the State does not help immigrants integrate into Greek society. Finding a permanent home affects the above attitudes significantly, since it helps immigrants feel a sense of equality with the domestic population and increases their sense of security and self-esteem. Many, however, refer to the difficulties they have had in renting or buying an apartment or house and to the often difficult conditions they have had to endure for years. Often, it is again the networks of friends and relatives that have made immigrants feel welcome in this country rather than the attitude of the local population. Despite the many publicized cases of bureaucratic obstacles to immigrants’ integration, their attitude to state bureaucracy is surprisingly neutral. «An explanation may be that, while immigrants’ representatives talk about the difficult cases, the average immigrant tends to have a better relationship with state agencies,» the study’s authors remark. About one-third of the immigrants interviewed for the study came to Greece accidentally – perhaps because they were unable to reach their destination of choice.