ATHENS – Greece suffered another ignominy when the country was ranked dead last among the 28 countries in the European Union for social justice, in a report compiled by the Bertelsmann Foundation in its annual report.
The German-based group – whose country has put up the biggest share of Greek bailouts but insisted on harsh austerity creating record unemployment and deep poverty – said those very factors were responsible for the rapid degradation of the quality of life in Greece.
“Greece suffers from a youth unemployment rate of almost 60 percent now, a rapid increase in the risk of poverty, not least among children and adolescents (from 28.2 per cent in 2007 to 35.4 per cent in 2012), a health system that has been hard hit by austerity measures, discrimination towards minorities due to increasing radical political forces and a huge mountain of debt as mortgage for future generations,” the report, authored by Daniel Schraad-Tischler and Christian Kroll said.
In contrast, the report said, “the top rankings of the Nordic countries and the Netherlands are mainly due to good policy outcomes in the fields of poverty reduction, labor market access and social cohesion and non-discrimination,” which Greece, notorious for corruption and inefficiency, doesn’t have.
The study examined six different dimensions of social justice based on 35 criteria: poverty, education, employment, health, generational justice as well as social cohesion and non-discrimination.
Other than the North-South divide in Europe – with crisis-hit countries like Greece, Spain and Italy ranking far below the affluent North in all six areas – the researchers also stressed a generational divide in the European Union, with the young suffering a greater degree of social exclusion than the old.
For example, the report found that 28 percent of children and young people are threatened by poverty or social exclusion across the EU, showing a significant increase from 2009.
“The growing social divide between member states and between the generations can lead to tensions and a considerable loss of trust. Should the social imbalance last for long or increase even more, the future of the European integration project will be threatened,” said Dr. Joerg Draeger, member of the foundation’s Executive Board.
Regarding Greece in particular, the report also noted a spike in material deprivation the extent of severe material deprivation, which rose by more than 8 percentage points to 19.5 percent in the 2007-2012 period.
“Given the currently disastrous situation in the Greek labor market, it can be assumed that poverty and social exclusion in the country have worsened even further since, and that this will be reflected in the Eurostat figures for 2013 and 2014, which have yet to be released,” the report said.