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Children are most at risk of poverty in Greece

30 November 2010 / 12:11:37  GRReporter
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Extremely alarming are the data on poverty in Greece the Minister of Employment Louka Katseli presented at the conference on policies to fight poverty and the role of civil society. One out of five people lives below the poverty line and 22% of them are elderly and 23% of the poor are children under the age of 17. The conclusion was shocking that many people in recent years can not bring sufficient income despite being employed and they live below the poverty line, said Christ Triandafilou.

According to George Douros from the Statistical Service of Greece, children at the age of 17 are at greater risk of poverty and there is the same risk for 37% of the unemployed. Only the press, NGOs and trade unions are concerned about poverty, said Manos Matsakis from the Athens University of Economics. "If we compare child poverty in Greece with that in Europe, it is 4% higher – it is 10% in Greece and 6% in Europe, and poor children in the country are in worse condition than poor children in Europe." Child poverty in the country is a problem that needs to be given more attention because it is getting more serious. In contrast to child poverty, elderly people poverty has fallen twice in the last 14 years and is currently at the same level with other European countries where the level is stable. The reason for this could be the increase in the pension insurance funds of farmers, which increased by 154% from 1998 to 2008 and the 276%increase in the allowance for social solidarity to pensioners. Allowances for children for the same period equal the amounts the parents received in 1997 but in real figures this is a decrease of 27.7 %, noted Mr. Matsakis.  

An interesting fact is that allowances in Greece are calculated according to the parent’s job and occupation, i.e. the amount applicable to all is 25 euros a month, but childcare allowances for  public workers are 71 per month, 236 euros for bank employees and quite high for workers in public enterprises, while in other European countries childcare allowances are not related to the parents’ occupation, said Professor Matsakis. It is interesting to be noted that his studies showed that only 13% of children in large families are poor, 57% are the poor children in families with one or two children and 68% of the poor children live in rural areas while 83% of the children are Greek nationals.

"We should support all families regardless of income, regardless of how many children they have, and to support young couples so that they could become independent. The state needs to provide services, not only allowances for the families," concluded Manos Matsakos.

In relation to child poverty, Father Apostolos Kavaliotis said that one of the evidences for this increase is the increased number of begging or working children at the traffic lights. Their number in 2010 was 11,750 and most of them are without their parents in Athens.

The study of Mary Karamesini – teacher at the University of Pandit – showed that threatened by poverty are young people and women because of the difficulties they encounter when searching their first job and when they move from the training stage to the labour market, while the difficulties the women face are due to their social role but also to the discrimination on the labour market. "They receive lower wages than men and the older employees and are often dependent on other family members," noted Ms. Karamesini. According to the Eurobarometer survey of impoverishment and social exclusion in 2009 the results of which were published yesterday on the internet, Greece takes the sixth place with the highest percentage (25%) of the people who are at risk of poverty and ranks after Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary and Poland. The highest rate is among young people aged between 18 and 24 years (30%), and 25.5% of men at this age are confronted with poverty, which is knocking on the door of 34.4% of women. The big difference of 9.8% that exists between the sexes is impressive, noted the researcher. It is expected the unemployment to increase as result of the crisis and Ms. Karamesini said that the large difference of 12% between men and women is the biggest difference in the EU countries. But interesting is the fact that young people and women were less "hit" by the crisis than other groups - the reduction of higher salaries and pensions mainly affected men. One of the conclusions and assumptions is that the crisis will make more young people dependent on their families because they will remain to live with their families longer.

Despite being employed, many people can not bring sufficient income and are below the poverty line, said Christ Triandafilou. Working poor should work at least seven months to survive and the poverty threshold in Greece is estimated at € 6,480 annual income per person or a monthly income of € 540. According to the Mr. Triandafilou’s study, there are three mechanisms that lead to poverty - low wages, few family members work and the number of people who are dependent on the working one. "Poor workers are 14% of workers, which is twice a higher percentage than in other European countries," he noted. "In all EU countries, workers who are on temporary contracts are at greater risks of poverty than those on permanent contracts."

The conference on policies to fight poverty and the role of civil society was opened by the Minister of Employment Louka Katseli and theDeputy Minister Anna Dallara, who noted that it is necessary not to give good but people to become active citizens.

Tags: Poverty
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