Greece Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Greece has had a relatively well-developed social insurance system, but the deep economic crisis of 2009 hit the system hard. Many Greeks descended into deep poverty with increasingly limited support from society. By the end of the 2010s, the situation had brightened somewhat.

During the economic crisis of the early 2010s, many Greeks were hit hard. In Athens alone, it was estimated that around 13,000 people live on the streets in 2012, a total of around 20,000 homeless Greek Orthodox Church distributes food to a quarter of a million people each day.

According to calculations in 2013 of the Greek equivalent of Statistics Sweden, Elstat, the Greeks had on average lost 40 percent of their purchasing power since 2008. Actual incomes had decreased by 29.5 percent, and taking into account the price increases during the same period, the total effect was a dropout of 40 percent.

greece population

The UN agency, ILO, wrote in a 2014 report that Greece risked an ongoing social crisis for a further up to a couple of decades, although the country managed to achieve stable economic growth.

Ten years after the economic crisis erupted, another one of three Greek residents was still at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This meant that they earn less than 6 percent of the official poverty line, which was around SEK 48,000 for one person and 105,000 for a family at the end of the 2010s. About 30 percent of the poorest households had difficulty getting basic foods such as chicken, fish, meat and vegetables every day and a fifth could not afford heat during the winter.

In 1983, a national health care system was introduced to guarantee all citizens health care regardless of income. The insurance systems are complex and divided into a number of insurance funds and institutions linked to different professional groups.

The largest is the state cash register IKA. The funds are responsible for, among other things, the members’ pensions and sickness benefits, and they are mainly financed through employer contributions and taxes. The quality of care differs between the health insurance. The system has been rationalized in recent years by merging the institutions. The funds have large financial deficits created by rising pension costs.

The Greek pension system has had major structural shortcomings and some problems still exist. The high pension costs, and too generous conditions according to experts, were one of the reasons why the budget deficit increased sharply in the years before the economic crisis.

In 2008, Parliament implemented major changes to the pension system. These included lower pensions and poorer opportunities for early retirement. The changes triggered nationwide strikes and protests. During the crisis period 2010 to 2018, several reforms of the pension system were implemented. The retirement age was increased to 67, but those who worked for many years could retire at 62.


Infant Mortality: 4 per 1000 births (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 100.0 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 99.0 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 8.4 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: 1,511 US dollars (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 19 percent (2018)



Bribery in arms purchases

A Head of Department at the Department of Defense is arrested and admits that during the 1990s he received approximately € 16 million in bribes in connection with arms deals with companies in a number of countries, including Sweden. The Ministry of Finance says it has been able to return seven billion euros to the state. Large arms purchases over a period of years are considered to be one of the reasons why Greece has incurred such large debts.

New property tax

Parliament adopts a new property tax, which is expected to bring in € 2.65 billion in 2014. A member of New Democracy votes against the bill and is excluded from the party. Thus, the government’s majority is reduced to 153 out of 300 seats.

Parliament adopts the 2014 budget

The 2014 budget is adopted by Parliament. This means savings of a total of EUR 3.1 billion. According to the government, austerity should lead to the country’s GDP growing by 0.6 percent during the year. Lenders – the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF – are disrupting the government’s forecasts. While the government estimates a budget deficit of just over half a billion euros, the lenders estimate the deficit to be more than 1.5 billion euros.


Disbelief quotes are stopped

Parliament voted down a proposal by Syriza to direct a declaration of confidence in the government. The proposal comes after the police drove away journalists from the ERT who occupied the closed ether media company’s premises and continued the news reporting via the internet. A member of Pasok who voted with the opposition is excluded from the party.

Two members of Golden Dawn are murdered

Two members of Golden Dawn are shot to death and a third is shot outside one of the right-wing party’s Athens office.


State support for Golden Dawn is being abolished

Withdraws financial support for Golden Dawn (EUR 873 000 in 2013); Under a new law, state aid should not be paid to a party whose leader, or a tenth of its elected representatives, is being investigated for membership in a criminal organization or for terrorist offenses.

Former Minister is sentenced to 20 years in prison

Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos from Pasok is sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and bribery. Tsochatzopoulo’s wife, ex-wife, daughter and 13 other persons are also convicted of money laundering.


Anti-fascist rapper is murdered

An anti-fascist rapper is murdered in a suburb of Athens. The killer and his gang are suspected of being followers of Golden Dawn. The murder triggers anti-fascist demonstrations demanding that Golden Dawn be banned. The right-wing party denies links to the murder. Police arrest Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, several of its MPs and a number of other leading party representatives. They are charged with belonging to a criminal organization and for involvement in murder and assault. Supporters of Golden Dawn demonstrate against the arrests.


A new state-owned etheric media company will be formed

Decides that a new state-owned broadcasting company should be formed; The company is named Nerit (New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television).

The shipping companies contribute voluntarily to the Treasury

Most of Greece’s shipping companies donate substantial sums to the Treasury. Through a settlement with the government, the shipping companies will give the state around EUR 140 million per year over the next three years. The 441 shipping companies concerned own 90 percent of the vessels flying the Greek flag. During the crisis, shipping companies received harsh criticism for making big profits in low-tax countries.

Thousands of public servants are dismissed

Parliament is voting on the new public sector cuts required for EU and IMF lenders to pay EUR 6.8 billion; Four thousand public servants are laid off before the end of the year. In addition, the government cuts VAT on food from 23 to 13 percent to stimulate domestic consumption and tourism. The vote in Parliament is preceded by widespread protests in several cities and a new nationwide strike.

State ERTs start resending

The state television and radio company ERT is starting to broadcast to a limited extent again. At the same time, the Government announces that a new state broadcasting company will be formed within two months.

Clear sign for payout

Eurozone finance ministers give Greece a payout of € 6.8 billion. The aid must be paid in installments after assessing the tightening requirements that the lenders require. Among other things, 4,000 government employees will be laid off.


The closure of the ERT causes a government crisis

The closure of the ERT causes the small ruling Democratic left party to leave the government, whose parliamentary majority is reduced to three terms. The departure will lead to a transformation of the government, which means that Pasok’s leader Evangelos Venizelos will become Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The government’s majority increases to five seats when two independent MPs join New Democracy.

ERT is closed for saving reasons

The state TV and radio company ERT is forced to cease its broadcasts after a government decision to save. The opposition talks about a coup d’état and the unions announce a general strike. The Supreme Administrative Court illegally declares the closure decision and orders the broadcasts to resume, albeit to a limited extent.


Environmental protests against mining

In northern Greece, several people are injured in violent protests against the government’s and a Canadian company’s plans to open a gold mine there.

“Hat’s soup kitchen”

Police use tear gas to stop Golden Dawn’s food handouts to Greeks only in a square in Athens. The mayor of the city talks about “hate soup kitchen”.


New tough loan requirements

Greek lenders demand that the number of public servants be reduced by 150,000 over the next two years.

Prison for former minister

Former Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a veteran politician in Pasok, is sentenced to eight years in prison and fined half a million euros for failing to declare all his financial assets, including a home. Subsequently, three former ministers are charged with tax evasion.


Syriza’s opinion support is growing

The Syriza Left Party receives the strongest support in two opinion polls. Second place comes New Democracy.

Social unrest is increasing

Strikes are carried out in public transport and healthcare in protest of the government’s budget savings. Sailors strike because of missing wages but are ordered to work by the government, since islands become without food supplies. In Athens, riots erupt among mediocre and desperate Greeks, when fruits and vegetables end at a free dispensation organized by farmers in protest of increased taxes and rising living costs.


More tax increases

The majority of the parliament votes in opposition to the opposition through tax increases, which will give € 2.5 billion more to the state each year. Income tax, as well as corporate and property tax, are being increased in an attempt to meet international lenders’ conditions.

The ruling party excludes two parliamentarians

The Democratic Left ruling party excludes two MPs. The reason is that they support the opposition party Syriza’s demand that the Pasok leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos be investigated together with former finance minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou for handling the list of possible tax refugees (see December 2012).