Dismantling the Feeble Social Protection System of Greece: Consequences of the Crisis and Austerity Measures

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines the Greek social protection system by focusing on the dismantling effects of the economic crisis and the neo-liberal austerity measures. Despite sound empirical findings on pre-existing inadequacies of the Greek social protection system, the austerity measures introduced within the framework of the Memoranda signed with Troika (EU, ECB and IMF) further weakened the capacity of the system to address social risks such as unemployment, inequality and poverty. Against the background of an ageing society, Greece faces a number of challenges in all social policy fields. In the labour market, sky rocketing unemployment levels followed the economic crisis and the deregulation measures imposed while wages were drastically reduced. Pensions, one of the main tenets of the social protection system accounting for more than half of social protection benefits, were drastically reduced affecting the living standards of the elderly. The quasi-universal character of the health system was seriously compromised by drastic cuts leaving public hospitals to manage increased admission rates with reduced budgets and an increasing part of the population uninsured. The other historically underdeveloped social policy areas (i.e. housing, family-child care, long-term care) impose significant burdens on families, the traditional providers of welfare in Southern European countries, in a context of shrinking incomes from work and pensions and imposed flat-rate taxes on house property. These developments taken together resulted in unprecedented levels of poverty and inequality for the Greek population.

References

  1. Agorastakis, M. (2009). The evolution of mortality rates in Greece (1991–2006). Demographic News No. 4 (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.demography-lab.prd.uth.gr/Publications-gr.asp
  2. Allen, J. (2006). Welfare regimes, welfare systems and housing in Southern Europe. International Journal of Housing Policy, 6(3), 251–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antonopoulos, R., Kijong, K., Adam, S., Masterson, T., & Papadimitriou, D.-B. (2015). Responding to the Unemployment Challenge: A Job Guarantee Proposal for Greece—An Addendum. New York: Observatory of Economic and Social Developments, Labour Institute, Greek General Confederation of Labour.Google Scholar
  4. Arapoglou, V. (2004). The governance of homelessness in Greece: Discourse and power in the study of philanthropic networks. Critical Social Policy, 24, 102–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bettio, F., & Vershchagina, A. (2010). Long-term care for the elderly. Provision and providers in 33 European countries. Rome: Fondazione G. Brodolini.Google Scholar
  6. Dafermos, Y., & Papatheodorou, C. (2011). The paradox of social policy in Greece. Why the increase in social protection expenditure did not reduce poverty. Policy Briefs 1, Observatory of Economic and Social Developments, Labour Institute, Greek General Confederation of Labour. Athens: INE-GSEE (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.ineobservatory.gr/sitefiles/files/policy-brief1.pdf
  7. Dafermos, Y., & Papatheodorou, C. (2012). Working poor, labour market and social protection in the EU: A comparative perspective. International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 6(1/2), 71–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dafermos, Y., & Papatheodorou, C. (2013). What drives inequality and poverty in the EU? Exploring the impact of macroeconomic and institutional factors. International Review of Applied Economics, 27(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dedoussopoulos, A., Aranitou, V., Koutentakis, F., & Maropoulou, M. (2013). Assessing the impact of the memoranda on Greek labour market and labour relations. Working paper No 53. Geneva: ILO. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_dialogue/---dialogue/documents/publication/wcms_232796.pdf
  10. Deleeck, H., van den Bosch, K., & De Lathouwer, L. (1991). Indicators of poverty and adequacy of social security: Methodological considerations and comparative results for seven countries. Final Report, Second Specific Community Action to Combat Poverty, Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.Google Scholar
  11. Dimoulas, K. (2011). Structural aspects and evolution trends in the use of primary health care services by the IKA Social Security Fund. An evaluation attempt. Observatory of Social and Economic Developments, Institute of Labour Studies, General Confederation of Greek Labor, Athens.Google Scholar
  12. Duquenne, M.-N., & Kotzamanis, V. (2012). Demographic structures and demographic dynamism of Greek municipalities. Demographic News No. 18 (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.demography-lab.prd.uth.gr/DemoNews/DEMONEWS_%20Nο18_2012.pdf
  13. Economou, C. (2010). Health systems in transition: Greece. Health system review. Copenhagen: WHO/EURO, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.Google Scholar
  14. Elsinga, M., & Hoekstra, J. (2005). Homeownership and housing satisfaction. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 20, 401–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eurostat. (2010). Combating poverty and social exclusion: A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-EP-09-001/EN/KS-EP-09-001-EN.PDF
  16. Ferrera, M. (1996). Southern model of welfare in social Europe. Journal of European Social Policy, 6(1), 17–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fountoulakis, K., Grammatikopoulos, I., Koupidis, S., Siamouli, M., & Theodorakis, P. (2012). Correspondence. The Lancet, 379, 1001–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gavroglou, S.-P. (2013). The minimum wage in Greece and internationally. Empirical facts and policy options. Athens: National Institute of Labour and Human Resources, Minsitry of Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare (in Greek).Google Scholar
  19. Gibb, K. (2002). Trends and change in social housing finance and provision within the European Union. Housing Studies, 17(2), 325–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gough, I. (1996). Social assistance in Southern Europe. South European Society and Politics, 1, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gough, I., Bradshaw, J., Ditch, J., Eardley, T., & Whiteford, P. (1997). Social assistance in OECD countries. Journal of European Social Policy, 7, 17–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ifanti, A., Argyriou, A., Kalofonou, F., & Kalofonos, H. (2013). Financial crisis and austerity measures in Greece: Their impact on health promotion policies and public health care. Health Policy, 113, 8–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ioannidis, Y. (2013, June 6–7). Creating markets out of nothing: The case of the continuing education system in Greece. 6th Biennial Hellenic Observatory PhD Symposium on Contemporary Greece & Cyprus, London School of Economics. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/47540/1/MPRA_paper_47540.pdf
  24. Ioannidis, A., Papatheodorou, C., & Souftas, D. (2012). Working poor. Dimensions of poverty of the workers in Greece. Athens: INE-GSEE (in Greek).Google Scholar
  25. Karamessini, M. (2008). Continuity and change in the southern European social model. International Labour Review, 147(1), 43–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Karanikolos, M., Mladovsky, P., Cylus, J., Thomson, S., Basu, S., Stuckler, D., et al. (2013). Financial crisis, austerity, and health in Europe. The Lancet, 378, 1457–1458.Google Scholar
  27. Karidis, N., Dimitroulis, D., & Kouraklis, G. (2011). Global financial crisis and surgical practice: The Greek paradigm. World Journal of Surgery, 35, 2377–2381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Katrougalos, G. S. (1996). The South European welfare model: The Greek welfare state in search of an identity. Journal of European Social Policy, 6(1), 39–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kemeny, J., & Lowe, L. (1998). Schools of comparative housing research: From convergence to divergence. Housing Studies, 13(2), 161–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kentikelenis, A., Karanikolos, M., Papanikolas, I., McNee, M., & Stuckler, D. (2011). Health effects of financial crisis: Omens of Greek tragedy. The Lancet, 381, 1323–1331.Google Scholar
  31. Kentikelenis, A., Karanikolos, M., Reeves, A., McKee, M., & Stuckler, D. (2014). Greece’s health crisis: From austerity to denialism. The Lancet, 383, 748–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kotzamanis, V., & Duquenne, M.-N. (2012). The contribution of foreigners to the demographic dynamism in Greece. Demographic News No. 19 (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.demography-lab.prd.uth.gr/DemoNews/DEMONEWS_%20Nο19.pdf
  33. Kotzamanis, V., & Sofianopoulou, K. (2008). The contribution of foreigners to birth and fertility rates in Greece. Demographic News No. 1 (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.demography-lab.prd.uth.gr/DemoNews/1-SepOkt08.pdf
  34. Kyriazis, N. (1999). Women’s flexible work and family responsibilities in Greece. South European Society and Politics, 4(2), 35–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leibfried, S. (1992). Towards a European welfare state? On integrating poverty regimes into the European Community. In Z. Ferge & J.-E. Kolberg (Eds.), Social policy in a changing Europe (pp. 245–279). Frankfurt: Campus.Google Scholar
  36. Leitner, S. (2003). Varieties of familialism: The caring function of the family in comparative perspective. European Societies, 5(4), 353–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lyberaki, A. (2010). The record of gender policies in Greece 1980–2010: Legal form and economic substance. GreeSE Paper No. 36, Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28437/1/GreeSE_No36.pdf
  38. Matsaganis, M. (2000). Social assistance in southern Europe: The case of Greece revisited. Journal of European Social Policy, 10(1), 69–81.Google Scholar
  39. Matsaganis, M. (2011). The welfare state and the crisis: The case of Greece. Journal of European Social Policy, 21(5), 501–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Matsaganis, M. (2012). Social policy in hard times: The case of Greece. Critical Social Policy, 32(3), 406–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Matsaganis, M., & Flevotomou, M. (2007). The impact of mortgage interest tax relief in the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy and Greece. EUROMOD Working Paper Series, No. EM2/07. Accessed October 25, 2014, from https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/euromod/em2-07.pdf
  42. Matsaganis, M., & Leventi, C. (2011). The distributional impact of the crisis in Greece. EUROMOD Working Paper, No. EM3/11. Accessed October 25, 2014, from https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/euromod/em3-11.pdf
  43. Ministry of Employment and Social Protection. (2008). Social Budget 2008. Athens: Ministry of Employment and Social Protection (in Greek).Google Scholar
  44. Mossialos, E., Allin, S., & Davaki, K. (2005). Analysing the Greek health system: A tale of fragmentation and inertia. Health Economics, 14, 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. OECD. (2013). Pensions at a glance 2013: OECD and G20 indicators. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  46. Papadimitriou, D., Nikiforos, M., & Zezza, G. (2013). Economic crisis and austerity policies in Greece: Which are the perspectives? Observatory of Economic and Social Developments. Athens: INE-GSEE (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.ineobservatory.gr/dhmosieuseis/keimena-politikhs/oikonomiki-krisi-kai-politikes-litotitas-stin-ellada-poies-einai-oi-prooptikes/
  47. Papatheodorou, C. (2008). The public debate on poverty in Greece and the legitimization of dominant national and supranational policies. In M. Agelidis, D. Sakkas, & D. Gravaris (Eds.), Social theory and political responsibility (pp. 535–557). Athens: Gutenberg (in Greek).Google Scholar
  48. Papatheodorou, C. (2009). Inequalities and deficiencies in social protection: The welfare system of Greece. In K. Schubert, S. Hegelich, & U. Bazant (Eds.), The handbook of European welfare systems (pp. 225–243). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Papatheodorou, C. (2014). Economic crisis, poverty and deprivation in Greece. In S. Mavroudeas (Ed.), Greek capitalism in crisis. Marxist analyses (pp. 179–195). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Papatheodorou, C., & Dafermos, Y. (2010). Structure and trends in economic inequality and poverty in Greece and EU, 1995–2008. Observatory of Economic and Social Developments, Labour Institute, Greek General Confederation of Labour. Athens: INE-GSEE (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.ineobservatory.gr/sitefiles/files/report2.pdf
  51. Papatheodorou, C., & Petmesidou, M. (2004). Inequality, poverty and redistribution through social transfers: Greece in comparative perspective. In M. Petmesidou & C. Papatheodorou (Eds.), Poverty and social exclusion (pp. 307–366). Athens: Exantas (in Greek).Google Scholar
  52. Papatheodorou, C., & Petmesidou, M. (2005). Inequality, redistribution and welfare state: Greece in comparison to other countries in EU. In G. Argitis (Ed.), Economic changes and social oppositions in Greece: The challenges at the beginning of 21st century (pp. 213–254). Athens: Tipothito, Yorgos-Dardanos (in Greek).Google Scholar
  53. Peristera, P. (2010). Family policies in Greece. Demographic News No. 9 (in Greek). Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.demography-lab.prd.uth.gr/DEMO-NEWS_No9.pdf
  54. Petmesidou, M. (1996). Social protection in Greece: A brief glimpse of a welfare state. Social Policy and Administration, 30(4), 324–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Petmesidou, M. (2000). Social protection in Greece in the 1990s: Reforming the weak welfare state. In A. Mitsos & E. Mossialos (Eds.), Contemporary Greece and Europe (pp. 303–330). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  56. Petmesidou, M. (2006). Tracking social protection: Origins, path peculiarity, impasses and prospects. In M. Petmesidou & E. Mossialos (Eds.), Social policy developments in Greece (pp. 25–54). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  57. Petmesidou, M. (2013a). Pensions, health care and long-term care: Annual National Report 2013. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://socialprotection.eu/files_db/1443/EL_asisp_CD13.pdf
  58. Petmesidou, M. (2013b). Is the crisis a watershed moment for the Greek welfare state? The chances for modernization amidst an ambivalent EU record on ‘social Europe’. In A. Triantafyllidou, R. Gropas, & H. Kouki (Eds.), The Greek crisis and European modernity (pp. 178–207). London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  59. Petmesidou, M., Pavolini, E., & Guillén, A.-M. (2014). South European healthcare systems under harsh austerity: A progress–regression mix? South European Society and Politics, 19(3), 331–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Petmesidou, M., & Polyzoidis, P. (2013). Religion, values and the welfare state in Greece. In H.-R. Reuter & K. Gabriel (Eds.), Religion, values and the welfare state (in German). Google Scholar
  61. Petrogiannis, K. (2010). Early childhood care and education in Greece: Some facts on research and policy. International Journal of Early Childhood, 42(2), 131–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Polyzos, N., Karanikas, H., Thireos, E., Kastanioti, C., & Kontodimopoulos, N. (2013). Reforming reimbursement of public hospitals in Greece during the economic crisis: Implementation of a DRG system. Health Policy, 109, 14–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Priemus, H., & Dieleman, F. (2002). Social housing policy in the European Union: Past, present and perspectives. Urban Studies, 39, 191–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Siatitsa, D. (forthcoming). Housing crisis in Greece 2008–2013: State of affairs (Report). Brussels: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.Google Scholar
  65. Simou, E., & Koutsogeorgou, E. (2014). Effects of the economic crisis on health and healthcare in Greece in the literature from 2009 to 2013: A systematic review. Health Policy, 115(2–3), 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siskou, O., Kaitelidou, D., Papakonstantinou, V., & Liaropoulos, L. (2008). Private health expenditure in the Greek health care system: Where truth ends and the myth begins. Health Policy, 88(2-3), 282–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Symeonidou, H. (1996). Social protection in contemporary Greece. South European Society and Politics, 1(3), 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. The Greek Ombudsman. (2007). Special Report on the unemployment benefits, the rights of the unemployed and the operation of OAED services. Social protection unit, Athens (in Greek).Google Scholar
  69. WHO. (2013). Health, health systems and economic crisis in Europe. Impact and policy implications. Summary. European Observatory on Health Issues and Policies. Accessed October 25, 2014, from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/186932/Health-and-economic-crisis-in-Europe4.pdf?ua=1
  70. Zavras, D., Tsiantou, T., Pavi, E., Mylona, K., & Kyriopoulos, J. (2012). Impact of economic crisis and other demographic and socio-economic factors on self-rated health in Greece. European Journal of Public Health, 23(2), 206–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Labor Institute/General Confederation of Greek LaborAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Social Administration and Political ScienceDemocritus University of ThraceKomotiniGreece

Personalised recommendations