The Greek economic crisis made headlines in 2010 when the country received a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. But the bailout came with a hefty price tag: the Greek government had to accept austerity measures that slashed paychecks, cut pensions, and raised the retirement age. Unemployment skyrocketed and wages dropped, all while the government passed new taxes to cover their bailout payments. Youth unemployment, meanwhile, hit a staggering 60% in 2013. And while the Greek economy today might show signs of turning around - unemployment has dropped and the economy has grown - daily life hasn't improved.
In fact, life in Greece has only gotten worse as the Greek citizens lose hope that conditions will ever improve. Like the economic crisis in Venezuela and numerous other examples of societies on the brink of financial collapse, Greeks continue to suffer, even if their struggle no longer makes headlines.
One Greek Woman Simply Said, 'We Don't Dream'
The economic crisis hit the young harder than any other age group. In 2016, after the first bailout payments, the unemployment rate for Greeks under 25 hovered at close to 50%. Eva Pavlopoulo, currently earning her second master's degree, told CNBC:
We are fine, we continue our lives, we know that we don't live in extreme poverty. But if you want to learn a second language, if you want to do something for yourself, improving your skills, you can't, or you are very limited.
Even after receiving a job paying €1,000 a month, Pavlopoulo can't afford to move out of her parents' house. Pavlopoulo sums up the crisis for young people with a simple, chilling phrase: "We don't dream."
Greeks Are Spending Far Less On Food
The economic crisis has hit tourism, paychecks, and pensions in Greece. And it's also affected food sales. Since 2009, Greek spending on groceries has dropped 18%. The reason is simple: Greeks are cutting back on food purchases, only buying the basics. In a single year, 2016, sales dropped over 4%, even as billions of euros in bailout money came into the country. The decrease in spending has cost thousands of jobs. In 2005, Greece had 32,000 small food stores, but by 2015, the number dropped to 27,000.
With dropping wages and more poverty, a growing number of Greeks visit the country's food banks. In central Athens, one food bank fed 2,500 families in 2012. The number grew to 6,000 in 2014 and hit 11,000 families in 2017. The food bank depends on donations to feed those families, which include 5,000 children.
One Greek Says Everyone Is In Danger Of Losing Their Homes
Protests in Athens turned violent in 2015 when Greeks went on strike against the harsh austerity measures required to receive bailout funds. And today, protests continue in Athens. Ilias Papadopoulos told USA Today that protestors gather outside the courthouse in Athens every week: “Every Wednesday, when foreclosures are scheduled, we turn up at the court in order to block them."
These protestors want to prevent Greeks from being forced into homelessness because of the economic crisis. Papadopoulos said, "All of us are potentially in danger of losing our homes in this economic crisis. When everyone around you is in a dire situation, no one can just save themselves.”
Cuts To Government Spending Mean School Teachers Make 40% Less
In 2015, protestors clashed with police in riot gear over the austerity measures needed for the bailouts. Only 10 days after Greeks resoundingly voted "no" on the austerity measures, their parliament passed them anyway. Those measures require cutting government spending, which often translates to lower salaries.
Stathis Nikitopoulos, a public school teacher, told CNBC that between 2010 and 2017, he lost 40% of his income. Today, Nikitopoulos does not believe economic conditions will improve for the Greek people.