The poorest group in the population

Given the lack of research into pensioners, the only data available are limited to the number of pensions paid. The statistics are only indicative as they do not count those who receive more than one pension. An ESYE work force report for the second quarter of 2004 showed the number of pensions in Greece at around 1.77 million, of which 58 percent are paid to men and 42 percent to women. Of the total, 3,700 are paid to those aged 35-44, 64,850 to those aged 45-54, 334,800 to those aged 55-64, 805,000 to those aged 65-74, and 561,000 to those aged over 75. The overwhelming majority of pensions (1.16 million) go to people who have not worked since 1996. The data for that period also shows the age pensioners now retire. For instance, of the pensioners now aged 55-64, 109,000 (one-third) retired at least nine years ago, when they were 46-55. Of the pensioners now aged 65-74, 486,000 (more than half) retired when 56-65. By contrast, of the total of 561,000 pensions paid to people over the age of 75, 13,000 were granted only in the past eight years, which means that 2.5 percent of pensioners stopped working when they were more than 67 years old. As for the ages of those who started receiving pensions in the past eight years, out of a total of 609,000 pensions, 35,000 went to people aged 35-44, 48,000 to people aged 45-54, 225,000 to people aged 55-64, 319,000 to people aged 65-74, and 13,000 to people over 75. ESYE’s records also list the professions of people who have received pensions since 1997. Of the 609,000 recent pensioners, 215,000 (35.3 percent of the total) worked in primary industry (farming, fishing). They are followed by tradesmen (96,500 or 15.8 percent), and office workers (56,700 or 9.3 percent). Next come machinists of all types (51,000), service industry workers and sales people (43,300), executives and managers (43,000), scientists and artists (43,000), technicians and technician assistants (21,600). Half the pensions issued in the past eight years (308,000, or 50.6 percent) went to wage earners, followed by 231,600, or 38 percent, to self-employed workers without staff, 28,150 (4.6 percent) to employers, and 41,000 (6.8 percent) to people in family businesses. «These statistics reveal some significant differences compared with pensioners in the past,» Giorgos Kotsifakis, head of labor force research at ESYE, told Kathimerini. «First, former wage earners make up 74.4 percent of the 50-56 age group, but 50.6 percent of the over-65 age group. Similarly, those who were self-employed make up 19.2 percent of the younger (50-64) age group, but 38 percent of the older group.» It is also worth noting that while 56 percent of former wage earners are men, only 43 percent are women. Only 0.3 percent of the men are former assistants in family businesses, compared to 16.1 percent of the women. The numbers of self-employed are roughly the same, 37 percent of the men and 39.5 percent of the women. «The number of pensioners represents about 16 percent of the population, or 19-20 percent of the population over the age of 15 and 41 percent the number of the employed,» Kikilias said. «In other words, each pensioner corresponds to 2.4 workers.» «This ratio is not a mere statistic but is of vital significance for social insurance systems such as the one in Greece where funds to pay pensioners do not come from savings or the capitalization of contributions that today’s pensioners paid in the past, but from the contributions and taxes paid by the present generation of workers,» he added. «In Greece, on average, the income of a pensioner depends on the work of 2.4 people with jobs. But behind this average is a less favorable picture, given that the ratio in the case of Social Security Foundation (IKA) pensioners is far smaller, at a time when most pensions are very low,» Kikilias said. «But it must be pointed out that these numerical approaches lack any kind of social or class criteria, in the sense that not all productive members of the economy are simply workers, nor do they all receive the same remuneration for their work.»

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