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The urban population worse threatened by poverty

10 January 2016 / 15:01:47  GRReporter
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In a study from 2012, Giannis Panousis wrote that today poor people are not just rich people with less money, but "another kind of people". This was how the former minister wanted to highlight the radical twists unleashed by the crisis and the change of Greece's production model.

A recent survey by the National Centre for Social Research shows that 6 years into the deep recession, urban poverty has been expanding and deepening, in contrast to the countryside, where people have done better because of the "atypical social institutions." According to the survey, about 1.2 million people living in urban or semi-urban centres had defined themselves as poor in 2014. At the same time, 1.1 million poor people called the rural areas their home. In comparison with 2008, the urban poor have increased, while the countryside now has less of them. Only 600,000 people living in urban centres declared they were poor back in 2008, but in 2012 they already passed the 1 million mark.

The problem with immigrants

"Urban poverty affects people locally. At the same time, it is influenced by profound social developments, such as the settling of migrants and refugees in urban areas, which in turn are deserted by the locals," says Dionisis Balourdos, research director at the National Centre for Social Research. The study focuses on the problem of migrants because it affects more than anything else the economy both within Greece and internationally.

"The structural economic changes have reduced the competitiveness of urban centres in the industrial sectors, which provide jobs to the poor and to migrants. This way the demand for labour has fallen disastrously. In all developed economies, the labour market is being split into either "wonderful" or "terrible" jobs. The percentage of jobs in between has been shrinking while the two extremes have been growing. This general conclusion applies to almost all developed economies, regardless of their performance."

The study stresses that "at the core of urban poverty stands unskilled labour with reduced productivity, which is unable to compete with labour in the developing industries offering much higher wages. The crisis may not have caused, but further exacerbated the process of impoverishment, which had already begun. Being uncompetitive has marginalised large groups of workers."

According to this study, the risk of poverty in rural areas still remains at its historical levels of 27%. It grew in urban and semi-urban areas from 14% in 2008 to 19% in 2014. The Aegean islands, Northern and Central Greece are leading the pack by this indicator.


Tags: study poverty urban centres rural areas
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