Social and Economic Situation

Fact Sheet – Social and Economic Situation in Greece

The Politics of Austerity – In the wake of a deteriorating public balance sheet, successive Greek governments accepted the politics of austerity demanded by an international troika (EU, European Central Bank, and IMF) as a way of gaining access to loans. The conditions for these loans are codified through a series of evolving Memoranda imposing increasingly strict and detailed directives for the social and economic policies of Greek governments. These externally imposed troika conditions are the politics of austerity that were meant to save the country. Instead, the country is now facing an economic and humanitarian disaster.

More than a quarter of the Greek economy (measured as GDP) has been destroyed during the period 2008-2013. [1]   This simple statistic best captures the shocking effect of the politics of austerity. The economy didn’t just stop- it went over a cliff and it was pushed in that direction by a set of Troika driven policies.

The number of unemployed increased from approximately 360,000 in 2008 to 1.4 million in 2013.More than 60% of all youth were unemployed in 2013 with the average unemployment rate for all workers at more than 27%. [2]

Wages and salaries have fallen heavily with the minimum monthly wage salary being reduced more than 22% to just 586€ (AUD 200 per week). For youth (those under 25 years) the minimum monthly wage reduced by 32% to 511€ (AUD 175 per week). While in real terms, average wages in Greece shrunk by more than 15% during the period 2009-2012. [3]

Pensions have dropped between 35-5% as the pension funds were obliged to purchase government bonds. Many of these bonds have been rendered worthless and non-redeemable as the crisis has unfolded.

The impoverishment of the Greek population is reaching alarming levels. Unicef reported in 2014 that some 686,000 children, or 35.4% of the total, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. [4]   Eurostat data for 2011 shows that more than 15% of the Greek population was unable to cover the basic goods and services for survival. [5]   This figure will now exceed more than 20% as the crisis has extended across more households and exhausted financial reserves of households.

Closure of public hospitals, reduced staffing and a lack of medicines for even critical patients has stretched the health system to breaking point. The spread of previously eradicated diseases such malaria is related lack of preventative public health measures.

The programme has pushed the economy into recession, compromised the standard of living of the majority of the population and generally undermined the enjoyment of human rights in Greece. A large proportion of bailout loans have been used to pay off the banks that lent money recklessly to Greece, while increasing the country’s debt.Regrettably, the role of the State as provider of accessible public services has been subordinated to the increasingly elusive goal of restoring a sustainable public budget.[6]

 

[1] See http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tec00115

[2] See http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE/PAGE-themes?p_param=A0199

[3] See https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AV_AN_WAGE

[4] http://www.unicef.gr/pdfs/State_of_the_Children_in_Greece_Report_2012_Summary.pdf

[5] http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/images/8/8f/1_Material_deprivation_rate_2011_%281%29.png

[6] See report of UN Human Rights Commissioner http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GRIndex.aspx

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