Monday, 22 September 2014

One in four Greeks in severe material deprivation; a eurozone outlier


Photo by Harry van Versendaal Photo by Harry van Versendaal

Greece has the sixth highest rate of severe material deprivation among 30 European countries, with the lack of access to basics rising substantially for almost all age groups last year, according to new data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

ELSTAT’s annual “Living Conditions in 2012” report shows that material deprivation, which is measured in nine categories (e.g. inability to afford adequate heating of a dwelling or to purchase durable goods), rose again last year – as it has been doing since 2009.

According to ELSTAT’s calculations, 19.5 percent of Greeks are severely materially deprived. This is by far the highest rate in the eurozone (compared, for example, to 8.6 percent in Portugal, 5.8 percent in Spain and 2.3 percent in the Netherlands) and the sixth highest of 30 European countries listed. Only Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and Lithuania are placed above Greece.

ELSTAT’s figures show that material deprivation increased in all age groups, with only the 65+ section seeing a relatively small rise.

Some of ELSTAT’s findings are particularly worrying, especially considering that the economic situation has deteriorated further since the data’s reference point:

50.3 percent of the poor population declares incapacity to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day.

51.1 percent of the poor population reports that it experiences difficulties in dealing with payment arrears such as for utility bills for electricity, water, natural gas, etc.

55.5% of the poor population reports having great difficulty in making ends meet (coping with usual needs) with their total monthly income (For poor households the lowest monthly needed income to make ends meet has risen is 1,677 euros).

26.7 percent of the total population declares inability to keep their home adequately warm, while the corresponding percentage of the poor population is estimated at 47.6 percent and the percentage of the non-poor population is estimated at 20.8 percent.

Although there is much there to concern Greece’s government and society, the statistics regarding the difficulties people are facing in heating their homes has a particular relevance at the moment as the country is experiencing a colder winter than last year.