Athens-based NGO think-tank diaNEOsis highlighted the significant poverty disparities between the wider Athens region and other Greek areas in a special analysis published today.

According to the findings of the report, poverty rates in the wider Athens area and the South Aegean were consistently lower than the national average.

As the analysis notes, changes in GDP don’t necessarily reflect the economic condition of households in a region. The data illustrates, among other things, the significant disparities between Attica and the rest of Greece, which appear to be widening over time—the difference from the national average was 13% in 2017 and more than doubled to 32% in 2022. Among other regions, only the South Aegean consistently shows a positive difference in disposable income for most of the period examined.

The authors of the analysis adopted Eurostat’s definition of poverty, “the percentage of individuals with an equivalent disposable income below 60% of the median equivalent disposable income.”

Similar trends are observed in the regions of Crete and, to a lesser extent, in Epirus and the Ionian Islands. Conversely, the regions of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Central Macedonia, Western Macedonia, Western Greece, and the Peloponnese have poverty rates that are persistently higher than the national average.

Income and GDP Analysis

Apart from Eurostat’s definition of poverty, the analysis uses data from the Income and Living Conditions Survey (SILC), conducted across Europe by Eurostat and in Greece by ELSTAT. This detailed survey covers many aspects of household living standards and is conducted on a rolling sample, with only ¼ of the sample replaced each year.

The analysis, covering the period from 2017 to 2022, found that “the regions of the Ionian Islands, South Aegean, Western Macedonia, and Crete appear to have been more affected, as their economic activity relies on sectors that were either hit by the pandemic (such as tourism) or influenced by other decisions, like the de-lignitization of power production affecting Western Macedonia.”

The analysis also attempts to capture the impact of the pandemic by isolating poverty rates from 2019 and 2020 and examining their deviations from the national average. The authors observed that the impact of the pandemic on poverty was asymmetric among the country’s regions, stressing that better-off regions before the pandemic remained so in 2020, with the exception of the Ionian Islands region.

Between 2019 and 2020, the national poverty gap in Greece increased from 2.6 to 2.8. At the regional level, in 2019, this gap was smaller than the national poverty gap in 8 out of the 13 regions (with three of these regions being quite close to the national average).

The report concludes that the notable discrepancies between Attica and the other regions underscore the significant gap between the capital and the rest of Greece, both in the effects of the pandemic and more broadly. Additionally, the notable differences among regional indicators emphasize the importance of better-designed poverty alleviation policies at the regional level.