Lowest incomes in daily struggle

The poorest half of the population lives on 25.56 percent of available income; 20 percent of these live on just 14.3 percent of available income. «We’ll only be getting presents for the children this Christmas,» said a 30-year-old mother of two, an office worker on a wage of 520 euros per month. «My husband gets 900 euros. We shop at the supermarket using a credit card. Our children are six and three years old. All our money goes to standing monthly expenses, such as 200 euros for a private day nursery for our youngest child. The municipal nursery wouldn’t take him because they said our income was too high. My husband lodged a protest but was told doctors, lawyers and engineers were declaring annual incomes of 8,000 euros. What can you say to that?» The remaining 30 percent are either a little over or under the poverty line and living on 11.26 percent of available income. These are the ones who cannot go away for even a week’s summer holiday, and rarely enjoy fresh fish, meat or vegetables. They are the solitary pensioners buying on credit from the neighborhood store, mothers who used to work in the textile industry, wage-earners with two children who earn just 1,100 euros a month after 20 years of service, or agricultural workers. According to the National Statistical Service, Greeks in this income group spend 50-60 percent of their incomes on food and housing. Their second highest expense is on health (6-9 percent); they spend very little on transport. Outlay on education accounts for just 0.5 percent of their income.