The shrinking middle class

Thirty percent of Greeks are in control of 32.16 of available income. The middle class, traditionally a guarantee of social cohesion in urban democracies, is shrinking fast. Just a few years ago, this class comprised 40 percent of the population. These days, a large percentage of this group is trying to preserve the illusion of its former lifestyle by means of credit cards and loans to buy good quality food, to send their children to «good» schools, to pay for extra lessons, holidays, clothes and to get a new car. They are in debt up to their necks because they cannot conceive of giving up a certain way of life. «Can’t I buy a gift for my godchild and my sister, for my children’s godparents? What about the family – nieces, parents, brothers and sisters. You can’t pay less than 30 euros for each present. Well, I buy them all on credit,» said a 30-year-old lawyer, the mother of two children. «On average, my husband and I earn 3,000 to 3,500 euros a month, but we can’t afford a holiday in a hotel.» This income group spends about 20 percent of its income on food, 12 percent on housing, 9.5 percent on clothing, 9 percent on transport, 9 percent at hotels and restaurants, 5.5 percent on health and 3 percent on education.