Gap separating lowest from highest income groups continually widening

The richest 20 percent account for 42.28 percent of available income, with the richest 10 percent living on 26.87 percent – that is, they have more money between them than the poorest half of the population. The richest 10 percent have 16 times more income than the poorest 10 percent. This huge gap is partly explained by the major difference between the highest and lowest incomes. According to a survey by the multinational consultants’ firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide, those in managerial positions in Greece’s private sector earn at least six times more than the lowest level staff. Salary increases among the former group are converging with those in the former 15-member EU, while those in the latter group remain stuck at «Greek» levels. The higher income groups include the 2 million people who keep the more expensive stores, restaurants and nightclubs in business. They spend 17.6 percent of their income on transport and travel, and 15.44 percent on consumer goods and services, including cosmetics. Household goods (10 percent) and clothing (9.5 percent) are next on the list, followed by food (9.3 percent) and housing (6 percent). Gift giving is not limited to Christmas. «Each party one of my children goes to means a gift of between 30-40 euros. I get something better for my godchildren, nieces and nephews at Christmas, spending 150 euros on each of them,» said a 42-year-old mother of two with a senior position in the civil service. Her husband is the general director of a major firm. «Cosmetics and jewelry are no longer a priority. I don’t go out much because of the children and I have a lot of clothes that I haven’t worn. I only buy good, classic things for work,» she said. Naturally, Christmas means a 10-day holiday at a luxury hotel in the mountains of Greece.