- Only 34% say adopting the euro has benefited Greece
- Majority say EU membership benefits their country
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the Greek debt crisis came to a head again earlier this summer, it's no surprise that leaders in more solvent eurozone countries expressed doubts about Greece's participation in the monetary union -- but these doubts are also widespread among Greeks themselves. A majority of adults in the country -- 55% -- said in a poll conducted May 14-June 16 that they think converting from the Greek drachma to the euro in 2001 has harmed Greece, while one-third (34%) said the common currency has benefited the country.
The situation in Greece reached a critical point on June 30 -- shortly after the survey was completed -- when Greece became the first developed country to default on a loan payment to the International Monetary Fund. In a July 5 referendum, Greeks resolutely voted against an extension of the country's second eurozone bailout, in protest against the new austerity measures it would have carried.
Greeks' doubts about the euro reflect the effects of austerity measures over the past five years, including higher taxes and deep cuts in public spending, that many economists say have contributed to the country's sharp economic contraction and soaring unemployment. Whether Greece would have been better off had it never joined the euro remains a matter of debate, however, as the country saw increased economic growth and a much-improved inflation rate through most of the 2000s.
Greeks Less Doubtful About Benefit of EU Membership
Greeks are less likely to harbor doubts about their country's membership in the European Union. In fact, responses to this question are essentially the inverse of those regarding eurozone participation: 54% of Greeks say EU membership benefits the country, while 35% believe the opposite.
The EU has a much longer history than the euro, and Greece has been a member since 1981; thus, a much larger proportion of the Greek population is too young to remember a time when the country wasn't an EU member. That generational difference may be reflected in the finding that the Greeks aged 60 and older are somewhat less likely to feel EU membership is a benefit (48%) than those younger than 60 (56%).
While Greeks are less likely to say EU membership harms the country than they are to say the same about participation in the euro, the finding that about one-third overall feel this way is remarkable in light of the fervor with which many southern and eastern European countries have pursued membership over the past 20 years. Impending polls in the region will reveal more about the extent to which the protracted crises in Greece and other debt-ridden EU members have affected the long-standing conviction that the benefits of membership far outweigh the risks.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted May 14-June 16, 2015, in Greece. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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