Child poverty has reached repulsive levels in Greece
by Dimitris Rapidis and Martin Foehler
The alarming increase in child poverty leaves untouched decision-makers in Brussels. It unveils the most appalling facet of the economic crisis, it constitutes a fundamental factor that undermines growth prospects, strongly affects performance at schools, causes problems in the family and psychology issues and breaks down the basic structures and safety nets of the society.
Child poverty is only part of a big interconnected chain that brings together variables like inequality, consumption, illiteracy, health. The downturn started in 2008, expanded in 2010 and since then poverty rate keeps increasing, with estimations bringing it up to almost 50% of the population in 2015. The big shock of incessant increase slowed down this year, stretched up to 2.3% comparing to 2014, whereas the average increase since 2008 was 8% in bi-annual basis.
Similarly alarming is the situation when household unemployment is addressed as proportion of children living in families with both parents working dropped by 16% between 2008-14, i.e. from 51% to 35%. At the same time, proportion of families with children with at least one unemployed shot up by 29%, from 8% to 37%, while the living standards of such households systematically lag significantly behind the population average. In other words, in 2014, the median Greek household income for families with children sank to 1996 levels, counting a loss of 14 years of income progress (i.e. 2010-2014 period is not integrated in measurement of income progress due to austerity cuts).
Dreadfully, we observe a growing share of children materially deprived that climbed from 10% in 2008 to 26% in 2014. Most of their parents resort to solidarity campaigns organized by the church, NGOs and local mayors, though this support does not suffice to cover their basic needs in daily basis. Meanwhile, the number of families with children dependent on pension income has also increased from 9% to 16%, corroborating our findings that pensions constitute a vital, truly important share of income for households that face significant economic problems.
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Dimitris Rapidis is Director at Bridging Europe. Martin Foehler is Policy Analyst at Bridging Europe.
November 13, 2015