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Greece Social Welfare
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    A very complicated system provides social welfare in Greece. The large number of social security organizations in existence afford a great variety of benefits and provisions. This situation results from haphazard planning and information input when the system was being established, from disproportionate influence by certain groups of potential beneficiaries, and from the large number of self-employed workers in the economy. By 1984 some 650 carriers were dispensing old-age, survivor, and disability pensions and health benefits through private, private supplementary, and lump-sum payment programs. The system is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Social Security (covering work injuries, sickness, medical benefits, and pensions) and the Ministry of Labor (providing unemployment and family allowances). The legislation prescribing benefits for Greek citizens is the Social Security Law of 1981.

    The system is financed primarily by contributions made by employers and through the payroll deductions of employees. Government subsidies also support the coverage of certain types of workers. In 1992 employer and employee social security contributions were virtually equal; the former totaled 13.8 percent of national tax revenue, the latter 14.2 percent.

    Membership in pension and health coverage programs is primarily determined by occupational group and industry. Despite the large total number of carriers, three large systems cover about 85 percent of non-civil service workers. The most extensive carrier is the Social Insurance Administration (Idryma Kinonikon Asfaliseon-- IKA); the other two major programs are the Agricultural Insurance Organization (Organismos Georgikon Asfaliseon--OGA) and the Tradesmen's and Craftsmen's Fund for the Self-Employed (Tameio Emporikon Viomihanikon Epihiriseon--TEVE). Workers not in the civil service or covered by one of the smaller companies are required to enroll in an IKA program. In general, IKA covers blue- and whitecollar workers; the OGA, which is funded entirely by taxes, covers the rural population; and the TEVE covers small business and merchants. A government-operated fund covers civil servants (about 5 percent of the work force) and military personnel, and small funds cover specific professions such as the law, banks, and public utilities.

    The IKA programs, the most comprehensive of the three, provide old-age, disability, maternity, funeral, sickness, medical, and workers' compensation benefits. Remaining coverage types-- unemployment, military service, and family allowances--are provided by the Manpower Employment Organization. Most funds provide cash benefits for lost income because of illness or accident, maternity, spa treatment, and death and funeral expenses.

    In the 1980s, the amount of employer and employee contributions varied greatly among the major funds, although the funds provided similar coverage; legislation passed in 1992 aimed to equalize contributions among the occupational groups. The workers' contribution level of IKA was raised, (to 7.5 percent of salaries) and between 1993 and 1996 all other funds covering salaried workers will be required to match that level. Contributions to funds for self-employed professionals generally remained at a lower level than those of salaried workers. Other reforms have aimed at covering unprotected workers, ensuring equal coverage between the sexes, and providing for the increasing number of retirees (see Population Characteristics , this ch.). An Employee Auxiliary Insurance Fund has been established to provide coverage to groups such as miners and municipal workers previously outside the system.

    The problematic development of Greece's social welfare system reflects the larger social context. Elements of traditional prescriptions for social interaction are still present as Greece moves closer to the influential West. In education, health care, environmental protection, women's rights, and even religion, the forces of reform continue to erode old familiar institutions. The main dilemma is how to find a truly Greek recipe for modernization that will honor the best traditions of the past.

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    A number of valuable studies describe Greek social life, especially in its rural aspect. John K. Campbell's Honour, Family, and Patronage and Juliet Du Boulay's Portrait of a Greek Mountain Village are among the best. The Metamorphosis of Greece since World War II by William H. McNeill shows all of Greek society during an important period of change. Two chapters of Urban Life in Mediterranean Europe: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Michael Kenney and David I. Kertzer, study the development of Greece's urban society. Two articles in Greece in the 1980s, edited by Richard Clogg, describe the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Greek education system. T.R.B. Dicks's The Greeks: How They Live and Work surveys all aspects of Greek society and its background.

    Recent evolution of the role of women and in the Greek education system are described respectively in "Gender and Social Change in Greece: The Role of Women" by Adamantia Pollis and in "Education in Socialist Greece: Between Modernization and Democratization," by Constantine Tsoucalas and Roy Panagiotoponlou both in The Greek Socialist Experiment, edited by Theodore C. Kariotis. Two publications of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the annual Trends in International Migration and chapter 11 of The Reform of Health Care Systems: A Review of Seventeen OECD Countries, provide current information on health and demographic trends. Environmental conditions and policies are described in two recent journal articles: "The Politics of Greek Environmental Policy" by Dimitris Stevis (in Policy Studies Journal), and "The State of the Greek Environment in Recent Years" by Basil D. Katsoulis and John M. Tsangaris, in Ambio. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

    Data as of December 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece Social Welfare information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece Social Welfare should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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