Greek EconomyIn May 2010, Greece experienced its first economic bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to rebuild the Greek economy. As a result, Greece was given $146 billion in loans. Greece suffered economic frailty, in part from hosting the 2004 Olympic Games, the global economic crisis, and switching to the euro. Then, in August 2018, Greece received its final loan from European creditors. This loan signaled the end of the bailout program that began in 2015. To work toward financial security, Greece has committed to running a budget surplus until 2060 and accepting continued support from the EU.

Despite this financial turmoil, tourism presents a bright light for the Greek economy in increased revenue. Tourists’ interest in Greece began to boom during the 2004 Olympics, held in Athens. Although the Olympics have been cited as the main cause of the economic crisis in Greece, tourist industries in Athens were surveyed and concluded “the Games upgraded the validity of Athens on the international tourist market.” Since the 2004 Olympics, Athens, on average, has lengthier tourist stays than other major urban destinations, such as Paris and Barcelona. Athenian hotels have also become more efficient since the Games. And ticket purchases for historical sites have also seen an incline.

Tourism Helps the Greek Economy

This surge in tourism has sparked a large revenue intake for the Greek economy. In 2018, travel services in Greece reported an intake of 16 billion euros, approximately $18 billion, up 14 million euros since 2017. They attribute this surplus to a 40 percent increase in travel receipts and a 53 percent increase in travel sales. That year, the effect of tourism on Greece’s gross domestic product was an estimated 20.6 percent, reaching $44.6 billion. In fact, this is double the global average of 10.4 percent. This means one out of every five euros spent in Greece stems from travel and tourism.

Greece is happy with how tourism initiatives have been implemented in the past several years. The country also acknowledges 988,000 jobs lie in its tourism and travel industries. In 2019, Greece expects this job market to reach 1 million jobs. As such, travel and tourism is the largest employer in Greece. Minister of Tourism of the Hellenic Republic Elena Kountoura has noted Greece’s plan for the continued growth of the tourism sector: “We intend to maintain Greece’s strong momentum in tourism and maximize its benefits for the local communities across Greece, acknowledging tourism’s immense value as a major driving force for employment, economic and social prosperity.”

The reparation of the Greek economy has developed a dependence on tourism and travel. From the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea to historical sites such as Delphi, people from all over the world flock to witness a small piece of Greece’s beauty. What they may not realize, however, is they are working to support an economy on the mends. And the positive effect of tourism will continue to increase annually, as Greece works toward financial stability.

Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Greece
The past decade has not been kind to Greece. The global recession in 2008 ravaged its markets and cut wages, leaving millions destitute and reliant on government handouts to survive. Despite the fact that a relatively large portion of Greece’s population is educated, many still cannot find employment within national borders. An ongoing EU bailout in the magnitude of billions of dollars has not brought an end to the financial predicament of Greek citizens. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Greece.

10 Eye-Opening Facts About Poverty in Greece

  1. The Greek unemployment rate, though lower than it was in 2014, sits at 20 percent — a fifth of the population cannot find a source of steady income. It comes in at last of all countries in the EU.
  2. The government is still largely inefficient, and its bureaucratic functions are largely characterized by personal connections and a lack of transparency. The Tsipras administration, which came to power in 2015, has failed to affect significant change.
  3. The recent fires in Greece took 93 lives. Investigations have shown both the possibility of arson and insufficient responses from the government to have exacerbated the fires.
  4. Slightly over 34 percent of Greece’s population is deemed to be at risk of poverty — one of the most unnerving facts about poverty in Greece. However, without government handouts and pensions, this figure would leap to nearly 51 percent.
  5. The Greek brain drain remains high, though slowing down in recent years. Over 130,000 postgraduates have left Greece since 2010, a trend that bears dire consequences for the future of Greece if they do not return.
  6. Greece’s GDP has recovered somewhat since its implosion in 2008. GDP growth was estimated at -0.2 percent in 2015, 0 percent in 2016 and 1.8 percent in 2017. GDP is a measure of economic performance and individual wealth, and last year’s small surge is good news for a country whose GDP had shrunk by a quarter from 2007.
  7. The fertility rate in Greece went from a local high of 1.5 births per woman in 2009, to a low of 1.29 in 2013 and steadily climbed (though very slowly) to 1.33 in 2016. Too-low fertility rates result in an aged and reduced workforce that cannot meet the demands of the market, culminating in a lack of competition and economic decline.
  8. Facts about poverty in Greece relating to children are the worst off in the European Union. The poverty rate for minors stands at 45 percent, according to a report by UNICEF in 2017.
  9. After a decade of international economic bailouts and austerity packages valued at nearly 250 billion euros, or $288 billion, Greece is due to stop borrowing by the end of this summer. If it maintains an efficient budget and pays back its debts, Greece can finally re-enter the international market as a self-sustaining economy.
  10. In March 2018, the Bank of Greece reported a 7 percent drop in the number of nonperforming loans or unpaid loans. At about 43 percent, it still has major hurdles to overcome; the EU average is below 10 percent.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite the palpable negativity of these top 10 facts about poverty in Greece, hope is on the horizon. The economy is better off now than it was at the height of the recession; though growth is slow, consumer confidence has grown and individual spending has increased in the past year. Foreign investment is also mounting — an indication of international expectations of an economic recovery.

Greece’s government is the crucial actor. If it blunders in its management of foreign debt and continues its streak of opacity, Greece could head towards another economic recession. If it initiates sizeable social and economic reforms ahead of expectations in the international community, Greece could even reach past its previous economic heights before the recession. Time will tell.

Alex Qi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Greece
In 2010, Europe fell into a deep financial crisis that brought Greece to the edge of bankruptcy and “triggered a surge in unemployment [and] poverty.” For the past eight years, the situation has remained bleak. However, a new Eurozone debt-relief deal reached on June 22, 2018, offers the potential to reduce poverty in Greece.

The Crisis Explained

The financial crisis in Greece began after the global recession of 2007 to 2009; a recession that was sparked by the United States’ housing market crisis and which affected countries around the world. A few months after the end of the recession, the Greek government announced that for years it had been underreporting its budget deficit. This created a loss of confidence in the Greek economy and led the country to be shut out of financial markets. As a result, Greece was unable to pay its increasing debts.

With the threat of Greek bankruptcy and another European-wide financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and the European Commission began an international bailout program for Greece.

Greece received international bailouts three times, in 2010, 2012 and 2015. However, these bailouts came with conditions: Greece was required to overhaul its economy and implement harsh austerity measures including severe budget cuts and steep tax increases. Pensions were cut and public assets were sold. Though these measures kept Greece from descending into bankruptcy, its economy continued to suffer and unemployment and poverty rates surged.

The Crisis’ Effect on Poverty in Greece

Only 2.2 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty in 2009. By 2013, this number reached 17.1 percent. Between 2008 and 2016, the rate of unemployment increased dramatically, from 7.8 percent of the population to 23.6 percent. Hundreds of thousands who are employed hold low-paying, temporary jobs.

In addition, household incomes have dropped by one-third since the beginning of the financial crisis, and the number of people who are homeless leaped from 11,000 in 2008 to 40,000 in 2016. The dire financial situation has greatly impacted a majority of Greeks: in 2014, 95 percent of Greece’s population stated it had difficulty coping financially.

Over the past eight years, many local and national organizations have formed to aid poor people and provide them with food and shelter. However, these organizations do not have the resources to aid everyone and are unable to create the large-scale economic change that is required to improve Greek lives. The Eurozone debt-relief deal reached on June 22, 2018, has this ability.

The New Debt Relief Deal

Greece’s third international bailout program is set to end in August 2018. In preparation for the end of this program, Eurozone finance ministers met to discuss possibilities to address the continuing crisis. During talks in Luxembourg on June 21 through 22, 2018, 19 Eurozone nations reached an agreement that the European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, signify the end of the Greek crisis.

The new debt-relief package has been hailed as both “historic” and “momentous.” The deal will provide Greece with an extra 15 billion euros in loans during July and August 2018. In addition, the Greek government will receive a 10-year extension to pay back its loans from the three international bailouts, which includes low-interest rates. The deal will ultimately reduce the country’s dependence on the IMF and other European countries. There is also hope that it will reduce poverty in Greece.

Though Greece’s debt is still 180 percent of its GDP and progress will take time, the new deal can positively impact the country’s financial situation. The broad improvements in Greece’s economy can stimulate job growth and ultimately reduce the number of people in poverty.

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

Less than 100 years ago, millions of innocent Greeks were killed or deported in what is known as the Greek Genocide. In the Asia Minor region of Turkey, the Ottoman Empire felt it was being threatened by the indigenous Greek people. As a result, the Empire enacted a systematic genocide to rid the nation-state of the Greek contaminants. During the nine-year genocidal period, the Turks and the Ottoman government set out to exterminate the Christian Greek population that resided in the Ottoman Empire. These are ten facts about the Greek Genocide that set the pace for the future of the Ottoman Empire.

  1. The Balkan War, from 1912 to 1913, was the true initial marker for the Christian Greeks’ bleak future. Between these two years, four territories in the Balkans (Serbia, Bugaria, Montenegro and Greece) were successfully freed from Ottoman rule. After the war, the Ottoman Empire feared it would lose more power. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), an ultranationalist group of Young Turks, ultimately took over the Ottoman Empire with the goal of completing total Turkification throughout the Empire, or a full cultural shift to Turkic culture.
  2. The indigenous Greek people were seen as a threat to the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I. The Ottoman Empire feared that the Christian Greek population would attempt to aid the Empire’s enemies during the war, causing its defeat. Additionally, the Empire believed the Christian Greeks were tainting the population and would ruin the integrity of the current Muslim-majority nation-state. Therefore, the Empire opted for a solution to this problem: genocide.
  3. The Ottoman Empire began to target the indigenous Greek population in order to accomplish its goal of full Turkification. The Greek Genocide took place from 1914 to 1923, beginning a year after the Balkan War and aligning with the events of World War I.
  4. Ottoman Greek men of ages 21 to 45 were sent to concentration camps to work for the Turks. Working around the clock with little to no food, hundreds perished in the camps.
  5. Greek children were kidnapped and forced to conform to Turkish society. Villages were pillaged and burned to the ground.
  6. Deportations were issued in the Dardanelles and Gallipolli regions of Asia Minor. The Greek inhabitants of the western coastline of Asia Minor were sent to Muslim villages, where they had to either convert to Islam or be killed. The rest of the Christian Greek population was sent to the interior lands, where they would be exposed to harsh winter weather, starvation and illness.
  7. Approximately 3.5 million Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians died during this nine-year period.
  8. The Ottoman Empire was among the four Central Powers to lose in World War I. After the loss, leaders of the CUP Party were sentenced to death for their role in the organized Greek genocide.
  9. In 1922, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and became the New Republic of Turkey. A year later, the Greek Genocide ended.
  10. There are three remembrance days for the Greek Genocide: April 6 for the Eastern Thrace region, May 19 for the Pontus region and September 14 for Asia Minor.

Nine long years and 3.5 million lost souls later, the Ottoman Empire had officially ended its bloody crusade. Though its efforts to continue the massacres were passed on to the next leadership, the Empire was unable to strongly execute its plans. Many poor decisions led to the collapse of the five-century Ottoman rule, and while the Empire will not be remembered fondly, the lives of those lost in the Greek Genocide will be.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Help People in GreeceHow to help people in Greece? While Greece is one of the world’s most beautiful travel destinations, it is currently experiencing a great deal of poverty. The good news is that tourists in Greece have the opportunity to do much more than sightseeing, as there are many ways they can help the poor.

Some people hand out water bottles, miniature games for kids and snacks to those who are in need. Many of Greece’s refugees are so happy to arrive and are shocked at the amount of help that is awaiting them.

Another major way that tourists can help is by packing donation items in their luggage. Travel companies provide passengers who are unable to donate time with the opportunity to bring extra luggage containing donations without being charged. TripAdvisor has the option to donate via its website as well.

Greece has received two separate bailouts since the year 2010, causing budget cuts and an increase in taxes. This is another reason why donating to organizations and non-profits that assist refugees will help people in Greece and provide relief until the economy is able to regain its footing.

There are many nonprofit organizations that can help people in Greece, such as DESMOS, PRAKSIS, UNHCR Greece and SOS Children’s Villages, just to name a few. DESMOS, for example, allows people to donate used items that are still in good condition, such as computers, clothing, furniture and other items.

More good news is that the IRC has provided 17,690 people with aid packages, 1,400 abuse survivor refugees with one-on-one emotional support and eight safe spaces. One of the biggest needs for those suffering in Greece is mental health assistance. This is why safe spaces and counseling are important and necessary forms of assistance for refugees in Greece.

The International Rescue Committee, also known as the IRC, supports three major refugee camps in Greece by supplying necessities and access to showers, toilets and other aids in hygiene. Altogether, the number of people assisted in Greece by the IRC is around 31,000. With such a large number of citizens getting relief through the IRC and other organizations, there is rising hope for the poor and the refugees. As a tourist or simply a citizen, simple actions can be taken to help people in Greece.

Noel McDavid

Photo: Google

Youth Unemployment Rate in GreeceThe youth unemployment rate in Greece has reached tremendously high levels and is resulting in the growth of poverty among young Greeks, in addition to stunting the development of the Greek economy. As of May 2017, the youth unemployment rate in Greece reached a staggering 46 percent. This rate means that roughly half of the Greek youth population are unable to find employment opportunities.

Looking at the high rate of youth unemployment, one factor can be seen as its primary cause: Greek debt.

In 2011, due to its ballooning debt levels and fears that Greece would default on its debt, European counterparts were forced to give Greece a bailout package of 109 billion. As part of the loan, however, major credit rating agencies gave Greece a rating along with a disclaimer saying there would be a substantial risk of default on Greek debt.

By giving Greece this rating, the country pushed away potential investors in the Greek economy, and, in combination with the effects of Greek austerity programs, substantially hurt the growth potential of the Greek economy. The adverse effects observed in Greece are exemplified by the fact that the country’s economy has contracted by a quarter since the crisis began.

The minimum wage in Greece is calculated differently for younger people than it is for people over 30, so young Greeks who have a job are often paid at a significantly lower rate than older workers.

As an overall effect on poverty in Greece, the high youth unemployment rate will very obviously impact the country and raise its poverty rate. As the Greek economy continues to deteriorate and young people continue to go without opportunities to work, the poverty rate in the country will inevitably grow.

Going hand-in-hand with the increase in the rate of poverty among young people in Greece is the level of youth homelessness. As the unemployment rate continues to climb, the rate of homelessness among Greek youth – in addition to the rate of substance abuse – both continue to rise.

Overall, the youth unemployment rate in Greece is elevating enough to become a significant issue requiring foreign assistance to resolve. As countries capable of proving support, the United States and Greece’s European counterparts must increase aid to help Greece combat this problem. By focusing efforts on increasing the success of the Greek economy, issues such as youth unemployment will certainly begin seeing improvement.

Garrett Keyes

Cost of Living in Greece
Almost ten years after the global financial crisis, the cost of living in Greece has continued to climb, while wages and available jobs have dropped considerably.  This unceasing contraction of the Greek economy has led to a sharp increase in the percentage of the population living in poverty to 23.2 percent in 2015.

The Greek recession, now on track to become a Greek depression, has devastated personal incomes. A Greek person living in 2014 had the same amount of disposable income that they did in 2003. Due to lost incomes and cut pensions, Greece is, by some estimates, 40 percent poorer than it was before the crisis.

However, it is not just wealth that has suffered. Nearly one million Greeks are unable to afford to pay for healthcare, and many smaller local clinics have closed down. As a result, wait times at larger facilities have increased. Furthermore, scores of workers have been discouraged from entering the workforce. Long-term unemployment has skyrocketed to 20 percent. That number is even higher among young Greeks.

Many families in Greece now rely on the pensions of one or two family members to live and eat. Pensions have been, and are scheduled to be cut due to new austerity measures introduced through the E.U. and International Monetary Fund’s bailouts. There is little money left after these families pay rent for anything else. More than 40 percent of Greeks have fallen behind on utility payments. This rate is the highest in all of Europe.

For many, the cost of living in Greece has become too high. Currently, more than half a million young and educated Greeks have left the country in search of better opportunities elsewhere.  However, there may be hope for those dismayed by the oppressing cost of living in Greece. On July 24, for the first time in three years, Athens has collected on new debt through bond sales.

Athens hopes that the 3 billion euro bond will lead to more investor confidence in the Greek economy. As confidence and credit returns, many are hopeful that people can go back to work and the country can pull itself out of this depression.

Thomas James Anania

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Greece

Is there poverty in Greece? Yes. Among the countries riding the rising EU economy, Greece finds itself adrift with high unemployment and rampant poverty.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, several countries including Greece, Ireland, Cyprus and Portugal have relied on the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailouts. All are rebounding except for Greece, which is now on its third bailout and has yet to see a decrease in its 14 percent poverty rate.

Many Greeks say the bailouts are not enough. With the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 23 percent and youth unemployment at nearly 48 percent, many Greeks believe that the causes of poverty in Greece include the bailouts themselves.

The EU and IMF have been cautious issuing the Mediterranean nation new bailouts, requiring the Greek government to enact several austerity measures. These measures have ranged from increasing taxes and cutting pensions to scaling back all government spending.

Austerity and Poverty in Greece

Many believe that these austerity measures are the causes of poverty in Greece. Increased taxes and pension cuts leave citizens with less disposable income, and in Greece’s case, nearly no disposable income. Being a largely service-oriented economy, consumer spending is the most important economic driver.

As spending falls, businesses tighten the belt and hire fewer or lay off workers. The first to suffer are young and inexperienced Greeks. Due to the inability of the Greece’s youth to find employment, many families subsist on parents’ or grandparents’ pensions, which are to be cut this year as part of the new round of austerity measures.

Many young Greeks have left the nest to head to the cities, where incomes are higher, and poverty is less prevalent. Greece’s rural population has experienced a contraction as a result, and food assistance lines in the city have grown.

There is some good news on Greece’s horizon. As part of a program to incorporate Syrian refugees into mainstream Greek society, the EU is planning on giving Greece 209 million euros. The money will help refugees with rent and living expenses and the new cash infusion could help move the economy forward, only time will tell.

The Greek government has also decided to issue bonds on the market. Finding a buyer for Greece’s risky debt will prove challenging, but if done, will prove to the EU that the economy is turning a corner.

The causes of poverty in Greece are many and systemic. After the global financial crisis of 2008 and the following austerity measures, Greece has had it rough in the last decade, but many can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thomas Anania

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in GreeceGreece is a small nation in the south of Europe, full of history and culture. A large portion of the tradition in Greece resides in the food they make for their family and friends and spending time together. While these activities are common to the Mediterranean country, many of these people’s habits are also what cause their most common illnesses. Here are the top five common diseases in Greece:

1. Cardiovascular Disease

The number one cause of death in Greece in 2014, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) affect millions of people annually, worldwide. CVDs are common killers in low- and middle-income countries, such as Greece. These diseases come in many forms. Some examples include eart disease, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve problems. The causes of CVDs vary, but they often connect to lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, lack of physical exercise, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.

2. Cancer

While cancer comes in many forms and affects Grecians differently, the most prevalent among them is lung cancer. Lung cancer has become the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women around the world, often being found once it is in a very developed stage. In recent years, doctors have begun to develop early screenings for people who they believe are at a high risk of developing the cancer. Lung cancer is one of the more preventable cancers, often caused by large amounts of exposure to smoke.

3. Alzheimer’s and other Dementias

In 2013, 1.77 percent of the Greek population suffered from dementia. Additionally, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a disease that affects memory loss and other cognitive abilities, which make everyday living difficult. Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but it can reveal itself as people start to reach 65 years of age or older. While there is currently no cure for the disease, there are medicines and treatments that help with symptoms.

4. Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Another one of the common diseases in Greece, chronic respiratory diseases affect thousands of people every year. The disease can come in many forms, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and occupational lung diseases. These diseases are often due to behavioral or environmental forces such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, occupational chemicals and dust.

5. Diabetes

Approximately 7.5 percent of Greece’s population suffers from diabetes. The disease can come in two forms, type one and type two. Type 1 diabetes is normally diagnosed in childhood, whereas type 2 is diagnosed later on in adulthood. Type two diabetes is the most common form of diabetes found in those afflicted and is often the result of behavioral choices, such as eating habits.

These common diseases in Greece are just some of the many illnesses that the population deals with. While many of these afflictions often lead to fatality, they are often preventable by living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Greece's Poverty Rate
Once a holiday destination for millions looking to escape their usual fast-paced lifestyles, Greece has become ridden with protesters rather than sun-kissed tourists in recent years. With a poverty rate that has doubled since 2008, Greece has endured difficult times as a result of its recession. As of 2015, Greece’s poverty rate was sitting at 23.2 percent.

To put this statistic in perspective, the poorest country in the European Union (E.U.) currently has a poverty rate of 20 percent. The case of Greece is particularly intriguing as their poverty rate is only three percent higher than a country much poorer. This begs the question, what happened to Greece?

October 2009 sounded the alarm of a future of debt and recession for Greece, as it was discovered the government had been understating their deficit figures for years. Greece became the leper of the financial world as it was cut off from borrowing money and spiraled into bankruptcy around 2010.

A bailout of 240 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission should have marked a turning point in the Greek economy, but rather than using the bailout to strengthen the economy, it was simply used to pay off existing debts. This led unemployment to skyrocket to 25 percent, created an economy that has fallen a quarter in five years and heavily contributed to Greece’s poverty rate.

The years of 2008 to 2013 saw Greeks become 40 percent poorer. This decline has led to the rise in poverty and is a direct result of the high unemployment rate, particularly for Greece’s youth. Half of citizens under 25 are unemployed. This age group suffers disproportionately more than others, which spells trouble for the economy and well-being of such a fragile country. Those under 25 are the future, and Greece’s poverty rate will continue to rise if they are unemployed and disadvantaged.

Two bailouts, a recession and a record-breaking poverty rate later, Greece has not been able pull itself from the worst financial crisis in its history. Nearly a decade later, Greece is still living in the nightmare that is bankruptcy and debt. There is hope for the future, but currently Greece is looking for solutions.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr