Pros and cons of a new country

About 51 percent of migrants in Greece are Albanians, around 22 percent from other countries in eastern Europeans and/or the Balkans, and more than 12 percent are Arabs and Africans. Men represent 65 percent of the total (in the poll, which also reflects actual percentages for gender for each country of origin). This ratio holds true for Albanians, but is reversed for Eastern Europeans, where women are in the majority (about 60 percent). Among Asians, Arabs and Africans, men are in the majority (85-88 percent). Almost half the migrants (44.2 percent) are 25-35 years of age, and many more 35-44 years old (27.6 percent), but there are significant differences between one country of origin and another. Albanians come to Greece young (18-24), while many migrants from Europe and the Balkans are over 45. The majority of migrants (65 percent) live in Greece with their families, and 44 percent have children who live with them. Albanians and Asians are at opposite extremes, with 81.5 percent of Albanians living with their families, and 70.3 percent of Asians not living with their families. Around half of the migrants polled have been living in Greece for 6-10 years (most of this group being Albanians). One in three has been here less than three years, and one in six more than 10 years (most in this group are Arabs and Africans). Integration Why did they leave their countries and come to Greece? To work, of course. Most were unemployed in their own country (59 percent), many were extremely poor (38.4 percent), others had wretched living conditions (21.4 percent), and a few took refuge from war or political situations. Most migrants (63 percent) had great difficulty getting to Greece. It was most difficult for the Asians and easier for Eastern Europeans and those from the Balkans. The overwhelming majority (92 percent) believe their decision to come to Greece was correct, and 36 percent of them want to stay here permanently, while many are not sure what they want to (26.7 percent), some want to stay up to 10 years (15 percent), others up to five years (13.6 percent) and others more than 10 years (8.7) percent. Of those questioned, 62 percent said they knew Greek very well. The Albanians and migrants from the Balkans and Eastern Europe knew Greek best. Knowledge of the language increases with years spent in Greece, but 28 percent of migrants who had been living in Greece for more than six years did not speak the language well yet (the sample did not include any migrants who spoke no Greek at all). More than 70 percent of the migrants’ children speak Greek fluently or very well. As for adapting to Greece, 83 percent have adapted well or quite well, a factor which was directly connected with excellent knowledge of the language, years of residence, age (over 45) and family status (children). The best adapted seem to be the Albanians, those from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, with the Arabs, Africans and Asians less adapted. Of the sample, 78 percent felt close to the Greeks. Those who felt closest were from Eastern Europe and the Balkans (63 percent of whom have close Greek friends), while those who felt least close were the Asians (45.7 percent do not have a close Greek friend). Satisfaction with life The majority of migrants in the sample say they are slightly to very satisfied with their life in Greece. The most satisfied are from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, those over 45 and those who have lived in Greece for more than 10 years. The least satisfied are the Asians, Arabs and Africans, young migrants and those who have been living in Greece for less than five years. Less than half (44 percent) said they were satisfied with their income. They are more satisfied with health services (53.4 percent) and social insurance (53.8 percent), and relations with their employer (62.4 percent). While only half (51 percent) are happy with their social life, most (79 percent) enjoy complete religious freedom. And most (90 percent) say they live better than in their own country. This doesn’t mean they have no problems. Their greatest problem is the racism of Greeks (Albanians, Arabs and Africans have the greatest problems). This is followed by economic problems (which are most acute among those who have lived in Greece for less than five years). Unemployment is a significant problem, most serious for Arabs, Africans and Asians, while the fear of future expulsion worries Albanians. Then come problems such as issue of a residence permit, red tape in trying to obtain documents, job insecurity and poor working conditions, the difficulty of leaving the country and returning (for Asians) and social isolation (Asians). By far most migrants (around 85 percent) work: 23.3 percent in the building trade (Albanians), around 20 percent are laborers and technicians (Asians), 13.4 percent are sellers and merchants (Arabs and Africans), and 13 percent are domestic workers (women from Eastern Europe and the Balkans). Nearly half (48.4 percent) work eight hours a day, 29.5 percent work 9-12 hours a day (Asians), and 6.4 percent work more than 12 hours a day (Arabs and Africans). Most are insured with IKA, the Social Security Foundation (67.2 percent), and 10 percent with other funds, while 21.8 percent are not insured (chiefly women, new arrivals, Asians, Arabs and Africans). Almost three-quarters of those questioned (72 percent) said they were fairly satisfied with their jobs. Migrants from Albania, Eastern Europe and the Balkans are quite satisfied, Asians are slightly satisfied, and Arabs and Africans are not at all satisfied. Those most fearful of losing their jobs are women, migrants from the Balkans, and those who have not lived in Greece for many years. Those who feel most secure are men, Arabs, Africans and those who have been living in Greece for more than 10 years. The latter believe they will easily find another job if they lose the one they have, though Asians consider this to be unlikely. And 53 percent of the sample said they would not like to work in another country apart from Greece, though quite a few (17.1 percent) would like to go to the United States. Fewer want to go to Italy, Germany, England or Canada. Less than half the sample are interested in politics: 41.4 percent said they were interested in politics in Greece, and 47.3 percent said are interested in politics in their own country. Migrants over 45, Arabs and Africans seem most politicized and Asians the least so. But nobody expressed themselves very positively in favor of any political notion. The terms «center» and «socialism» gained the most positive responses, with fewer favoring «globalization,» «communism’ or «fascism.» Most (66.5 percent) would like to fight against poverty, half would like to struggle for peace and disarmament, quite a few against racism and for people’s right to a homeland, for environmental protection and against religious discrimination. The most valued right was the right to work. The majority (66 percent) said they were informed about measures to legalize migrants, though a considerable number (31.4 percent) were not informed (most of them young, newly arrived and Albanians). And only half of them are satisfied with the measures. Fewer than half the migrants polled feel like citizens with equal rights and sufficient job opportunities, but the overwhelming majority of them would like to be integrated into Greek society, as they feel they have things in common with Greeks. But so far quite a few of them (45 percent) feel insecure about the future, and some feel totally isolated (22 percent, mostly Asians). But they do not want to leave Greece and they would be willing to marry someone who is not from their own country. Entertainment Migrants, just like Greeks, mostly watch television for entertainment (74.5 percent, the biggest fans being the young and Albanians). Otherwise, they listen to music (46 percent – Eastern Europeans, Arabs and Africans), listen to the radio, stroll in parks or squares (31 percent – Asians, Arabs and Africans), or go window shopping (21 percent – Eastern Europeans). They are sufficient in the basic necessities: 90 percent have a refrigerator, 76 percent an electric cooker, 68 percent a mobile telephone, and 20 percent have a savings account, fixed-line telephone and a car.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.