Comparing Austria, Germany, Greece, Portugal and the UK
Edited by Eleni Apospori and Jane Millar
Chapter 5: The dynamics of poverty and multidimensional deprivation in Greece
Eleni Apospori INTRODUCTION Welfare provision in Greece is relatively new, especially when compared with many other European countries. It was founded in 1917 with the foundation of the Ministry of Social Assistance. However, its development came much later, in the early 1980s. Despite the stagnation of national productivity and GDP, and the extraordinary military spending during the early 1980s, expenditure on social protection was unprecedented. Social insurance was extended to cover both the rural and urban sectors. The lowest pensions were upgraded considerably. For example, the average old age pension increased from 48.5 per cent per capita of GDP to 78 per cent, the highest percentage in Europe. Social care services and means-tested public assistance pensions for elderly people were established. The ﬁrst steps towards a non-contributory universal health scheme were also made in this period by establishing the Greek National Health Service (ESY). However, clientelistic policies continued to exist to some extent (Katrougalos, 1996; Venieris, 1997). After 1985, the government introduced a stabilization programme for the economy. The great expansion of social policy in the early 1980s, combined with existing and long-standing fragmented social policy practices and with unfavourable demographic changes, had brought the system to the verge of collapse. Since the early 1990s, an eﬀort at readjustment has started. Social policy expenditures have been reduced and beneﬁts restricted. At the same time, support has been given to the most endangered insurance funds. Other readjustment measures included the gradual harmonization of social security contributions, stricter eligibility criteria...
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