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I wonder if it's quite as simple as being reducible to salary as a single (or majority) variable. I tend to think people are willing to work a poorly paid job if there was some kind of light at the end of the tunnel (career advancement, primarily). (As a casual outside observer, and with all due respect) My bet would be that a pervasive sense of pointlessness or helplessness in society is an equal partner along with low entry level salaries in the case of Greece and many countries that face similar struggles.

There are only so many dollars you can shave off of your employment budget before people decide they do not have to bother.

It's an escalating problem in Eastern Europe in general. Our politicians are way too greedy. They lost all perspective. They try being a bit more insolent since the last year, they sit and wait -- no revolts, no fires, no pitchforks. So hey, these people don't mind! Let's get EVEN MORE money from them! Sadly it's how it has been going ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Many elderly people say: "It was not all sunshine and rainbows back then either but at least the people had everything necessary to live respectful lives". They do have a point.

Thank the gods for internet and for me being a programmer ever since teenager. Otherwise I would probably live off social benefits as well.

It's very easy to demean people for being lazy or unmotivated or non-ambitious. But the reality is, the best career advancement ~85% of the people around here can hope for is an awful job with 2-3 hours of commuting in total for the day, for an income that exceeds the bare minimum needs with 5-10%. So it's pretty normal many decide not to bother, or to turn to petty crime.

The version of that currently operating in Hungary is that even though living on benefits is impossible, you can just go to Austria/Germany/UK and make way more money. Interestingly this is less true of programmers than it is of waiters and cooks, but then it's extremely true of doctors and plumbers.

Nobody in Budapest expects to make even a Berlin salary, but the difference is big enough now that lots of people say screw it, better to live abroad at least long enough to buy an apartment and so on at home. But I doubt many of those people will be coming back.

Ironically enough you could make a killing as a plumber anywhere in Germany right now, or in Vienna, or in Budapest, as per your choice. But a ton of Hungarian plumbers left when it wasn't like that, and now they have lives in Dinkelacker or wherever.

And it doesn’t help that large companies use to hire jobs that are low skilled directly and at least there was an opportunity for advancement. But now with most of those jobs being contracted out, there is no chance for advancement.

I’m even seeing that in IT. Back in the day you could start out as tech support, or an operator (as I did - long story) and be given a chance to program and move up. Now even those jobs are outsourced. It’s just as easy to hire someone from a foreign country to admin your AWS hosted instances as it is to hire someone locally.

If people are willing to drive a truck carrying garbage and feces all day, it is about money. Maybe also about shorter work days, but that is also related to money.

It really is reducible to the differential between salary and unemployment benefit, which is the opportunity cost of not taking a job. This is a well-known phenomenon in economics since the stagflation of the 70's, called the "poverty trap".

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