Social inequality in Greece increasing, GSEVEE survey finds

Inequality between lower and medium incomes is increasing, undermining the social growth model, an economic climate survey by the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) said on Thursday.

Presenting the survey, GSEVEE President George Kavvathas said that despite signs of improvement in macroeconomic indices, more than 70 pct of young people want to seek a job abroad, 51 pct of households depended on pensions and three out of four unemployed people were in a state of long-term unemployment.

“It’s a bomb at the foundations of social cohesion,” Kavvathas said, commenting on a survey finding that one in five households feared the loss of their house and one in four was unable to cover their financial obligations.

The survey, conducted by Marc SA on a sample of 1,006 households in the period November 15-21 2017, showed that 34.2 pct of Greek households lived with an annual family income of up to 10,000 euros, 62.4 pct of households reported a decline in income in 2017 and an increasing percentage (35.6 pct from 22.2 pct in 2016) reported a stabilisation of their incomes. Only 3.1 pct of the population managed to save while households with one unemployed member are particularly vulnerable. Also, 14.6 pct of households said their income was not adequate to cover their basic needs, while 61.1 pct of households were forced to make cutbacks in order to cover all their basic needs.

Expectations for 2018 remained negative with 63.6 pct expecting a deterioration of their finances (27.9 pct said it would remain the same and only 5.1 pct expect an improvement). Households declaring income from business activity as a main source of income remained at very low levels (5.9 pct).

Around 1.0 million households, or 29.9 pct of the total, have at least one unemployed person in the family, with only a 7.3 pct receiving unemployment benefit. A further 21.5 pct of households have a family member working for less money than the minimum wage.

For 9.0 pct of households, at least one family member left and went abroad in search of work, while 40.1 pct said they would examine emigrating abroad (72.3 pct among young people aged 18-34 years).

About a fifth or 19.6 pct of households are in arrears to the tax office and 55.6 pct of households have reached a settlement for their debt. Almost a third (31.1 pct) are in arrears to banks (around 450,000 households), while one in four said they could not meet their tax obligations next year and a 32.2 pct said they could not meet their loan obligations to banks.

A large part of the population have cut their spending on consumer needs (61.3 pct on clothing/footwear, 48.3 pct on entertainment, 40.2 pct on food and 40.1 pct on home products).