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DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS AND SOCIO ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

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					          DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS
              IN EU AND GREECE
                                                  by John Nic. Yfantopoulos
                                                 Professor, University of Athens




Over the last decade Greece has achieved impressive converging
trends with the rest of the European Member States. Real GDP growth
outstripped the EU-25 average growing at a rate of more than 4.5%,
unemployment has been declining since 2000, social expenditure
has been increasing and life expectancy is one of the highest among
the EU-25 Member States.
The main aim of this section is to provide general information con-
cerning demographic trends, and socio-economic indicators in the
E.U. Member States and Greece. It is generally accepted that
there are many dimensions in which demography, health and quality
of life could be measured. From the wide range of macro and micro
indicators we have selected some indicative indexes which would
portray the current state of development in life expectancy, health
status and quality of life in Greece.
This chapter is divided into three parts. The first part presents a com-
parative view of population trends, life expectancy, mortality, dis-
ability and quality of life in EU-15. The second part focuses on Greece
and discusses population growth and health status trends i.e. infant
mortality trends over the period 1955-2004 and incidence of Aids and
road traffic accidents. Finally in the third section we make use of some
demographic and socio-economic indicators in order to analyze social
cohesion and income inequalities in the accession countries.


                                                             about GREECE          65
     THE COUNTRY


     EUROPEAN COMPARISONS                        striking aspects of the European
     This section considers some inter-          Community’s Social and Demo-
     national comparisons of demo-               graphic problems is the increasing
     graphic trends in the EU-15. There          rate of the ageing. The extent and
     are some problems concerning                form of ageing varies significantly
     the comparability of the interna-           from one Member State to another.
     tional statistics, and the value of
     the calculated indexes. In order to         In 1960 there were only 34 million
     avoid any conceptual miss-inter-            elderly (above 65 years of age) in
     pretations we focus only on vali-           the EU-15. In 2000 this figure was
     dated indicators which have been            almost double reaching the level
     developed by the Eurostat, the              of 60 million. The future prospects
     World Health Organization and               are gloomier since the proportion
     the European Commission.                    of elderly is expected to rise from
                                                 16% in 2000 to 27% in 2010.
     Population trends in Europe
     In 2005, the population of the Eu-          In an effort to qualify the expected
     ropean Union (EU-25) was 459                demographic trends over the pe-
     million. On the base of this esti-          riod of the next 20 years (i.e.
     mate, Europe is the third largest           2000-2020) we can clearly distin-
     geographic unity in the world,              guish (see Diagram 1) between
     after China (1,253 million), and In-        three broad age groups, which
     dia (1,009 million). It is also ahead       will undergo impressive changes.
     in comparison to the population of
     United States (274 million) and              1) The group of young people (0-
     Japan (126 million). The population             29) is expected to fall by 15.4%.
     of the accession members, i.e.                  This reduction is expected to
     the twelve countries that are in the            have an immediate impact on
     face of membership negotiations,                the educational infrastructure
     is around 106 millions.                         as well as on the social and
                                                     health services relevant to the
     In the forthcoming decades of the               younger population. Despite
     second millennium, one of the                   this reduction, it has been pro-

     Diagram 1 Demographic trend in the European Union




     Source: Eurostat-1995 based (baseline) household projections

66   about GREECE
                                   DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
         AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

   posed by the European Com-             Declining fertility trends have been
   mission and the OECD that at-          observed in all European Member
   tention must be paid to ensur-         states over the last three decades.
   ing a high equality of educa-          Diagram 2 provides a comparable
   tional services. (Diagram 1)           picture of the fertility rates in 1970
2) The age group of working pop-          and 2000 across the EU-25.
   ulation (29-64) will present ini-
   tially a decline by 11.8% in the       The Southern European Countries
   age group 30-49, followed by a         with the highest fertility trends in
   substantial increase by 17.9% in       the 1970s and 1980s present cur-
   the age group 50-64 years. The         rently (in 2000) the lowest rates.
   net effect of the group (29-64)        In Greece the fertility rate dropped
   is expected to be an overall in-       from 2.39 in 1970 to 1.29 in 2000.
   crease by 6.1%. This change will       Similar trends have been observed
   bring a profound impact in the         in Spain and Italy.
   labour force and the correspon-
   ding productivity.                     Life Expectancy at birth
3) The group of elderly (+ 65) will       A measure of the expectation of life
   witness an impressive increase         at birth has the advantage of de-
   by 27.7%, generating new de-           scribing the overall mortality of a
   mands for elder services and           population in a more summary
   imposing an extra burden in            fashion than the mortality rates.
   the pensions and health care           Life expectancy indicators are cal-
   services.                              culated from life tables which
                                          present the record of survival and
There are three predominant fac-          mortality within a hypothetical co-
tors that have an important impact        hort (tables of life's generation),
on the ageing of the European             subject to the sequence of age
Population.                               specific mortality rates, estimated
                                          during a given calendar period
•   The first is the continuous fall      among actual age cohorts.
    in fertility rates
•   The second is the extended            Life expectancy has been con-
    longevity and                         stantly increasing across all the EU
•   The third is the impressive de-       Member States. The total gain in
    cline in mortality.                   years during the second half of the
                                          century is around ten years. Despite
We discuss below the significance         this success there have been sig-
of each of the above factors.             nificant differences among the EU-
                                          25 countries. In 2004 the male
Fertility                                 life expectancy at birth varied from
The rate of fertility is defined as the   65 years in Latvia to 78 years in
average number of children that           Sweden. A wider gap of 18 years
would be borne alive to a woman           could be identified among the
during her lifespan under the as-         countries with reference to the fe-
sumption that current fertility rates     male life expectancy ranging from
would continue. The average fertil-       76 years in Latvia to 84 years in
ity rate dropped in the EU-25 from        Spain. Except the inter-regional
2.35 in 1970 to 1.48 in 2000.             variation, striking inequalities in

                                                                about GREECE       67
     THE COUNTRY


     Diagram 2 Fertility Rates in EU-25 (1970-2000)




     gender life expectancy have been        On the base of diagram 3 we may
     identified within the countries         distinguish two periods: The first
     ranging from more than 11 years in      period (1985-1997) is characterised
     Latvia and Lithuania to 4.4 years in    by expansionary trends and the
     U.K., Sweden, and the Netherlands.      second one (1998-2004) by slightly
     In Greece a difference of five years    stabilising trends life expectancy.
     between male and female life ex-        Overall the decrease in fertility
     pectancy is observed over time. Di-     and the increase in life expectancy
     agram 3 presents the life expectan-     are the prime factors responsible
     cy trends for males and females         for the ageing of the population in
     over the period of 1985-2004.           the EU countries.

68   about GREECE
                                    DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
          AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

Diagram 3 Life Expectancy at Birth in Greece: (1985 - 2004)




Mortality Trends                            dardised (direct method) for age
One of many purposes for measur-            and sex, and are expressed in
ing mortality is to enable us to            rates per 100,000 individuals, we
draw inferences about the likelihood        found that Greece appears to be a
of death occurring within a specific        country with the lowest death
period of time (age). A reason for do-      rates among the EU states. Dia-
ing this is that the risk of dying varies   gram 4 provides a comparative
with a number of factors such as:           view of the crude death rates in
age, sex, geographical locality of res-     Greece in comparison with EU-15
idence, occupation, income, life-           and EU-25 over the period 1960-
style, as well as the availability of       2004. Lower death rates were as-
health services.                            sessed in Greece during 1960s to
                                            1980s followed by converging
Examining the total causes of               trends in the 1990s and early
deaths which have been stan-                2000s .


Diagram 4 Crude death rates in EU-15, EU-25 and Greee (1960-2004)




                                                               about GREECE     69
     THE COUNTRY


                    SEX                        CAUSES                    1994      1995
                                             Neoplasms                  217.40    217.20
                                              Ischemic                  123.30    128.10
                   MALE
                                               Suicide                    5.10      5.50
                                              Accidents                  31.10     33.80
         GR
                                             Neoplasms                  115.40    114.40
                                              Ischemic                   54.30     56.90
                  FEMALE
                                               Suicide                    1.20       1.10
                                              Accidents                   9.20      9.80

                                             Neoplasms                 266.60    262.80
                                              Ischemic                 168.60     167.00
                   MALE
                                               Suicide                  18.50      18.10
                                              Accidents                   19.1     18.50
        EU15
                                             Neoplasms                  147.70    145.20
                                              Ischemic                   81.10     80.10
                  FEMALE
                                               Suicide                    5.80      5.80
                                              Accidents                   6.10      5.80
     Source: Balourdos D. 2006. National Centre for Social Research.

     Table 1 provides an overview of the           ity. The new indicator was called
     main causes of death for males                DALY (Disability, Adjusted Life
     and females in EU-15 and Greece.              Years) and it is a composite indi-
                                                   cator taking into account the im-
     As far as the rest of causes of death         pact of several risk factors upon
     are concerned, we can see in table            mortality and morbidity. The loss
     1 that neoplasms, ischemic heart              of one healthy year of life is equal
     diseases,and suicides, in Greece              to one DALY.
     are lower in comparison to the EU-
     15average The life style, diet, and           In diagram 5 we present the rela-
     environment are among the factors             tionship between per capita
     contributing to this changes.                 health expenditure and the esti-
                                                   mated DALYS for different Euro-
     Disability Adjusted Life Years                pean and Accession Countries.
     The World Health Organization                 We witness a positive relationship
     (WHO) has developed a widely                  between DALYS and health ex-
     accepted methodology in measur-               penditure supporting the hypoth-
     ing the health status of different            esis that more economic resources
     nations across the globe. The main            would improve markedly the
     idea was to device an indicator,              health of the accession countries.
     which is not restricted to the de-            However the effect on the wealth-
     scription of death, but to reflect the        ier nations of the European Union
     impact of a wide range of risk fac-           is only marginal.
     tors upon health. Christopher Mur-
     ray, Executive Director of WHO’s              Factors contributing to living
     Global Programme on Evidence                  standards and Quality of life
     for Health Policy, undertook the re-          During the last decade it has been
     sponsibility to develop a compa-              a growing interest among politi-
     rable approach based on the com-              cians, administrators and social
     bination of mortality and morbid-             policy analysts to investigate the

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                                     DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
           AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

 1996      1997      1998      1999       2000      2001       2002       2003
218.20    217.20    211.80    218.30     221.40    223.80     215.10     217.90
130.10    128.50    119.80    122.20     122.00    124.40     121.30    126.40
  5.20          :         :         :          :         :      4.20       5.10
 34.00          :         :         :          :         :     24.30      24.30

116.60    115.00    112.40    114.20     114.80    116.50     116.20    113.20
 56.90     56.20     51.80     52.80      53.70     55.60      55.50     58.80
  1.00          :         :         :          :         :      1.00       1.10
 10.60          :         :         :          :         :      6.80      5.60

259.00    253.70    252.60    233.20     242.10    242.10          :          :
160.90    153.60    151.20    133.00     135.90     131.70         :          :
  17.40     17.30    16.90      15.70     16.00      15.80         :          :
  17.70     17.70     17.60     17.00      15.70     15.60         :          :

144.00    141.90    140.60    142.30     137.20    136.80          :          :
  77.50    74.60     73.70     64.60     66.00      64.20          :          :
   5.70     5.60      5.10      4.50       5.00      4.90          :          :
   5.60     5.40      5.50      4.60       4.80      4.70          :          :



  quality of life issues and to devise     ation of several dimensions of well
  methodologies aiming at its meas-        being in different cultural settings.
  urement. Several International Or-
  ganizations like the WHO and the         In early 1995 the Executive Board
  OECD have launched several stud-         of WHO approved a programme on
  ies on living conditions promoting       quality of life of the elderly aiming
  quality of life issues as a key con-     at the investigation of different per-
  cept for assessing subjective valu-      spectives related to:

  Diagram 5 DALYS and Health Expenditure




                                                                 about GREECE       71
     THE COUNTRY


     •   Life Course of the elderly who         tidimensional aspects (i.e. physical,
         are not compartmentalized,             psychological, social participation,
     •   Health promotion for the elderly       cognitive etc.) is used here in a
     •   Cultural settings                      generic form, capturing the widest
     •   Gender differences                     possible factors that describe per-
     •   Inter generational cohesion and        sonal satisfaction with all condi-
     •   Ethical considerations.                tions of living. As such, the term en-
                                                compasses all individual’s percep-
     The programme aimed at the col-            tions and attitudes towards the
     laborative work between various            general concepts of quality and
     academic and non-governmental              living standards which are the core
     organizations in order to create           concepts for our analysis here.
     data bases for policy strengthen-
     ing, advocacy, and implementing            Examining the factors influencing
     community based programmes.                the quality of life standards across
                                                the European member states it was
     Further to WHO, the OECD initiated         found that: good health (25%), suf-
     several studies on social indicators       ficient income (15%), a caring fam-
     promoting the measurement of               ily, nice home and friendly neig-
     quality of life as a key instrument        bourhood are among the core fac-
     for assessing subjective well being.       tors according to Europeans’ sub-
                                                jective evaluation that contribute
     Taking this experience into account        to their quality of life.
     the European Commission launched
     in 1999 the Eurobarometer study EB         Obviously there are several differ-
     52.1 aiming at the measurement of          ences among the European coun-
     quality of life and the factors influ-     tries in the hierarchical order of list-
     encing it, using a multidimensional        ing the factors. However, good
     set of indicators. The validity and re-    health and sufficient income are
     liability of the obtained results were     the most prominent issues which
     compared with other studies and it         came on the top of the list across
     was found that the developed               all member states. Analysing fur-
     methodology was feasible for com-          ther the responses on the relation-
     paring quality of life across countries.   ship between quality of life and
                                                health we found that among all the
     The term quality of life is defined        European Citizens the Greeks as-
     here as the European Citizen’s sub-        sign the greatest value on their
     jective perception of happiness or         health (Diagram 6). Being in good
     satisfaction with his/her living stan-     health is the top priority among the
     dards and the consumption of pub-          Greek citizens.
     lic goods and services. There are
     many factors influencing quality
     of life. Health, consumption pat-          GEOGRAPHY AND POPULATION
     terns, income, family relations,           GROWTH IN GREECE
     housing and social environment             Geography
     and personal security are only a few       Greece is geographically charac-
     indicative factors which are dis-          terised by mountains and a scatter-
     cussed at some length below. The           ing of small islands. The total land
     term quality of life, despite its mul-     area amounts to 131,944 km2, of

72   about GREECE
                                   DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
         AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

Diagram 6 Quality of Life in EU




which 29 per cent is arable, 39 per      that natural, ethnical and historical
cent is permanent meadow and             reasons have combined to pro-
pasture and only 12 percent is urban.    duce an uneven distribution of
                                         the population, so that more than
Officially Greece is divided into        one third of the population now
fifty-one counties (nomos) and           lives in the Athens area, which rep-
thirteen regions. There exist one        resents less than 5 per cent of
hundred and sixty nine inhabited         Greece's territory.
islands which constitute about 19
per cent of the total land area          Some 56 per cent of the industrial
and they are populated by 17 per         establishments in the country and
cent of the total population. Com-       48 per cent of the wage earners in
munications between the islands          manufacturing industries are locat-
and the mainland have improved           ed in this area.
considerably in recent years mainly
as a result of tourism, but still cer-   According to the 2001 population
tain difficulties remain in com-         census, there were 10,939,605 in-
parison with the rest of the Euro-       habitants in Greece of which 49.58
pean Countries.                          per cent were men and the rest
                                         50.42 per cent women. In the pe-
Population Growth                        riod 1971 - 1991 the proportion of
The rate of natural increase in a        males has remained fairly con-
population over time is defined as       stant, ranged from 48.9 to 49.0 of
the difference between the crude         the total population.
birth rate and crude death rate,
plus the rate of net migration. In       The population of Greece grew by
studying the nature of population        4.7% between 1981 and 1991, fol-
growth in Greece it suffices to say      lowing an increase of 11.1% during

                                                              about GREECE       73
     THE COUNTRY


     Table 2 Population of Greece by sex and major age groups
                                                             0-14       15-64       65 & OVER
         YEAR        TOTAL        MALES       FEMALES
                                                            YEARS       YEARS         YEARS
         1971       8,768,372    4,286,748    4,481,624    2,223,904    5,587,352      957,116
         1981       9,739,589     4,779,571   4,960,018    2,307,297   6,192,751     1,239,541
         1991      10,252,580     5,051,553   5,201,027    1,880,800   6,866,400     1,452,800
         2001      10,939,605    5,424,089     5,515,516

     Source: National Statistic Service of Greece



     the previous periods. In the                   ulation are the main causes for the
     decade 1991-2001 the rate of                   low-natality observed in the rural
     growth was 6.7%. (See table 2)                 population.

     During the 1960s and 1970s a                   Infant mortality trends
     substantial migration took place               Infant death rates refer to deaths
     from the rural to the urban areas.             which occur within the first year of
     The decline in most rural areas (es-           life. Neonatal death rates refer to
     pecially the Ionian and Aegean Is-             deaths which occur after the first
     lands) occurred mainly due to an               day of birth until the 27th day, and
     exodus of the younger generation               the post-neonatal death rate refers
     (from 25 to 45 years of age) from              to the period between the 28th day
     their villages to Athens or Salonica,          after birth until the 365th day.
     or alternatively to other developed            These death rates are often espe-
     countries. This movement is re-                cially responsive to changing con-
     sponsible for a profound demo-                 ditions of infectious diseases, nu-
     graphic change which has resulted              trition and medical care, and they
     in a skewed distribution towards               are widely considered to be more
     the aged combined with a negative              sensitive indicators of the environ-
     growth in most of the rural areas.             mental factors affecting the level
                                                    of health than are death rates at
     By studying the reproduction rates             later ages.
     of rural and urban populations in
     Greece, we get the impression                  By analysing infant, neonatal, and
     that since 1950 live births in-                post-neonatal mortality rates ac-
     creased in the urban population                cording to their cause of death,
     and decreased in the rural popu-               and by distinguishing between
     lation. But the number of deaths               rural and urban populations, the
     increased in both segments. The                most common causes of death, es-
     excess of births over deaths in-               pecially in rural areas, are seen to
     creased in the urban areas and de-             be due to infectious diseases, in-
     creased precipitously in the rural             juries incurred at birth, post-natal
     areas. Evidently the problem of                asphyxia, diseases peculiar to
     low-natality appeared strongly in              early infancy and immaturity.
     the rural population. Depletion of
     the rural population through migra-            Analysing the Greek data we can
     tion to large cities and the progres-          describe briefly the following facts:
     sive ageing of the remaining pop-              • The rate of infant mortality is

74   about GREECE
                                   DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
         AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

    decreasing in the urban areas,            tality is generally decreasing.
    but it is rather difficult to iden-       The rate of decrease appears
    tify the rural rates due to sta-          to be much higher in urban
    tistical deficiencies. It should          rather than in rural areas, and
    be noted that infant mortality            there has been observed a
    in the 1950s and 1960s has                continuously widening gap be-
    been systematically under -               tween rural and urban post-
    reported (especially neonatal)            neonatal mortality rates.
    in rural areas. The registration
    of infant deaths in rural areas       Infant mortality in Greece is report-
    has shown a little improve-           ed adequately, with some minor
    ment since the early 1960s            problems in rural regions, partic-
    when the majority of these            ularly with regard to neonatal mor-
    events occur in maternity clin-       tality. Total infant mortality has de-
    ics or hospitals, however still       clined significantly over time (see
    there exists a lack of com-           diagram 6), from 43.52% in 1955 to
    pleteness in the registration of      less than 5 per thousand live
    infant deaths.                        births in 2004 (see Diagram 7).

•   The rate of neonatal mortality        HIV/AIDS
    showed an upward trend in ur-         The number of new cases of AIDS
    ban areas until the middle            per million of population is de-
    1960s. After 1966 this rate           creasing in the EU countries. Im-
    has been declining constantly.        provements in the basic level of
    The rural areas has been show-        knowledge and preventing actions
    ing a decreasing rate of neona-       implemented by the governments
    tal mortality but as it has           and non-governmental organisa-
    been reported by the Greek            tions contributed to the decline of
    Statistical Office, this is an er-    AIDS pandemic. Several pro-
    ror attributed to the lack of ef-     grammes were launched aiming at
    ficient statistical services in ru-   behavioural changes of popula-
    ral areas.                            tions at risk such as homosexuals,
•   The rate of post-neonatal mor-        drug users, migrants and sex work-

Diagram 7 Infant Mortality Trends in Greece (1960-2004)




                                                                about GREECE       75
     THE COUNTRY


     Diagram 8 Aids Incidence per Million Population in Greece (1981-2004)




     ers. The Ministry of Health and So-    (46.4), Poland (50), and Lithuania
     cial Solidarity in Greece in collab-   (50.9) to higher values in Slovenia
     oration with NGOs and other or-        (81.2) and Cyprus (84.5). In other
     ganization stimulate and support       terms, GDP per capita in the appli-
     preventing actions to control AIDS     cant countries ranges from 46.4%
     and to provide practical advice        to 84.5% of the EU-25 average.
     and assistant for promoting HIV
     testing and counselling to fight       Diagram 9 provides an overview of
     against the epidemic. Diagram 8        the income variation among the EU
     highlights the AIDS incidence          and the Accession Countries. Ex-
     trends in Greece over the period       cluding Luxembourg, all the rest of
     1981-2004.                             EU countries present a variation of
                                            their GDP close to the average.
     On the base of Diagram 8 we may        The Enlargement countries, after
     distinguish two periods: the first,    marked declines in their GDP
     1981-1996 is characterised by in-      growth rates, during the transition
     creasing trends and then the sec-      period to a market economy, they
     ond 1997 -2004 by declining            present convergent trends with the
     trends. The monitoring of the epi-     rest of EU States. However, still they
     demic in conjunction with pre-         confront considerable lags in the
     vention actions contributed to the     catch up process. In 2005 Slovenia
     decline of the epidemic.               (81.2) and Czech Republic (72.7)
                                            had an income per capita higher
                                            than Portugal (71.7) and much clos-
     ACCESSION COUNTRIES                    er to Greece (83.1) reaching the bot-
     In 2005 all the applicant countries    tom limit of the EU Countries.
     had a lower GDP per capita ex-
     pressed in PPS (Purchasing Power       GDP per capita in Purchasing Pow-
     Standards) than the EU-25 average.     er Standards (PPS), (EU-25=100)
     However the range among the Ac-         One of the EU’s principal objec-
     cession Countries is considerable,     tives is to strength the economic
     going from very low values in Latvia   and social cohesion by ensuring an

76   about GREECE
                                   DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
         AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN EU AND GREECE

Diagram 9 GDP per capita in PPS in 2005




overall harmonious development.        effort is made here to provide ev-
As it is stated in the EC Treaty       idence presented by the Eurostat
(Art.2) “the Community shall have      and the European Commision.
at its task…” the continuous “rising
of the standard of living and qual-    Poverty and Social Exclusion
ity of life”. Social cohesion often    Poverty and social exclusion is a
implies “greater equality in eco-      multidimensional phenomenon.
nomic and social opportunities”.       They are close related to income,
                                       employment and educational sta-
Examining social cohesion in the       tus and to access of high quality
Accession Countries we shall adopt     health and welfare services. This
the common methodology which           section provides a brief overview,
argues that one of the dimensions      a snapshot, of the poverty and so-
of social cohesion is the fight        cial inclusion situation in the Eu-
against poverty and social exclu-      ropean Union (EU-25). Although
sion. We should underline here the     there are several definitions of
difficulties in drawing comparisons    poverty we will restrict ourselves to
between Eastern and Western Eu-        a more general approach proposed
ropean Countries, as well as within    by the European Commission. The
the Eastern countries since the        objective is to specify comparable
publication of income data under       indicators across all the European
the Communist regimes was ex-          Member states, which would pro-
tremely restricted. There had been     vide adequate information for
several supporters of the hypoth-      shaping policies to combat poverty
esis that socialism had reduced in-    and social exclusion. According to
come differentials and developed       the Eurostat definition individuals
effective policies to reduce or even   are considered to be at risk of
eliminate poverty. Despite the lack    poverty if their household income
of historical income statistics, an    is below 60% of the national equiv-

                                                            about GREECE       77
     THE COUNTRY


     Diagram 10 Poverty Rates in EU-25 in 2003




     alised median income. In 2003 the        Greece, a country of 10.9 million, has
     average poverty rate in the EU was       achieved the longest longevity and
     16% (Diagram 10).                        the lowest rates in mortality among
                                              the European Member States. In ad-
     Diagram 10 portrays considerable dif-    dition Greeks believe that the most
     ferences among the EU-25 States          important factor contributing to their
     ranging from 8% in the Czech Repub-      quality of life is to be in good health.
     lic to around 21% in Ireland Portugal    This view is also shared with all the
     and Slovakia. Greece is classified       rest of EU countries.
     among the countries with the highest
     rates of poverty. Around 20% of the      The Accession countries present
     Greek population is living below the     significant differences in GDP per
     poverty line. The main causes of         capita and in living standards in
     poverty are: low educational status,     comparison to Europe. Income in-
     living in rural areas and lack of work   equalities are much higher in the ac-
     opportunities.                           cession countries and this is attrib-
                                              uted to the economic crisis con-
     Conclusions                              fronted during the liberalization of
                                              the prices and the transition from a
     Concluding this chapter, we may ar-
                                              planned to a market economy. How-
     gue that there has been a broad ac-
                                              ever during the last few years some
     ceptance among the European Gov-
                                              countries have shown impressive
     ernments and policy makers to im-
                                              convergence trends.
     prove longevity, health status and
     the overall quality of life among the
     EU Citizens. Despite the noble inten-
     tions we found out that there are sig-
     nificant differences not only be-        USEFUL LINKS
     tween the countries but also within      General Secretariat of National Statistical
     the countries among the regions          Service of Greece
     and the rural / urban populations.       http://www.statistics.gr


78   about GREECE

				
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