The German cities where you earn the most (and the least)

The German cities where you earn the most (and the least)

A new study has found that there is still a huge wealth gap between different regions in Germany. While average incomes have grown overall, in some areas of the country the per capita income is less than half as high as in Germany’s richest municipality.

Disposable income increasing in Germany

Looking at disposable income in 401 regions, the study conducted by the Institution for Economic and Social Sciences (WSI) found that average incomes in Germany have increased by around 12,3 percent since the year 2000, with the average person now having an annual disposable income of 23,295 euros.

For the purposes of the study, disposable income is defined as the income that private households can use after income tax and contributions to social security have been deducted from their salaries, and any allowances such as child benefits have been added.  

Huge wealth divide in Germany

While wages have grown overall, the data also shows how the distribution of incomes across Germany is far from equal. In some of Germany’s richest areas, the average per capita income is almost twice as much as in the poorest municipalities.

For example, people living in Starnberg near Munich have, on average, 34.987 euros per year at their disposal, compared with the 16.203 euros available to inhabitants of Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region.

Income inequality between east and west Germany

The figures also lay bare the stark contrast between east and west Germany: while only six out of 77 districts in the east earn more than 20.000 euros per capita, in west Germany the figure is 284 out of 324. The average per capita income in eastern Germany is 85 percent of that in western Germany.

However, incomes are generally rising faster in the east than in the west. According to the study, Berlin is the only region in the east where real per capita incomes have risen by less than five percent since 2000. In the capital, average incomes grew by only 1,3 percent, compared with 5,6 percent in Dresden and 5,4 percent in Leipzig.

Average incomes in Germany’s largest cities

According to the researchers, the average income in all of Germany’s major cities is above the national average. However, growth in the years 2000 to 2016 was much weaker in these cities than in Germany as a whole. The full ranking of average disposable income is as follows:

  • 1. Munich (29.685 euros)
  • 2. Stuttgart (25.012 euros)
  • 3. Düsseldorf (24.882 euros)
  • 4. Hamburg (24.421 euros)
  • 5. Nuremberg (21.785 euros)
  • 6. Frankfurt (21.690 euros)
  • 7. Cologne (21.608 euros)
  • 8. Bremen (21.327 euros)
  • 9. Hanover (20.977 euros)
  • 10. Essen (20.159 euros)
  • 11. Berlin (19.719 euros)
  • 12. Dortmund (18.946 euros)
  • 13. Dresden (18.922 euros)
  • 14. Leipzig (17.770 euros)
  • 15. Duisberg (16.881 euros)


Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

Read more



Leave a comment