Poverty rate in Germany reaches new heights

Poverty rate in Germany reaches new heights

Poverty in Germany has reached record levels, according to a new report by the German Parity Welfare Association (Der Paritätische), which found that almost 14 million people in Germany now live in poverty, with children and pensioners more commonly impacted. 

16,6 percent of German population living in poverty in 2021

The poverty rate in Germany rose to a record high of 16,6 percent in 2021, the welfare association announced. “Accordingly, 13,8 million people in this country must currently be counted among the poor, 600.000 more than before the pandemic,” the association said. They explained that, due to the high inflation rate, the situation will likely deteriorate further in the coming year.

A household is defined as being in poverty if its collective income - including wages, pensions, unemployment benefits, housing benefits and child benefits - is less than 60 percent of the median income in Germany. 

Poverty on the rise in aftermath of pandemic and amid high inflation

In 2020, Der Paritätische calculated the poverty rate at 16,1 percent and the number of affected people at 13,4 million, showing that poverty has worsened over the last 12 months. However, they did concede that the “various protective shields and emergency measures” put in place by the federal government and the federal states ensured that poverty “only increased relatively moderately despite the economic slump and the rapid increase in unemployment.”

In 2021, however, the economic impacts of the pandemic began to really show: the study results show that poverty increased unusually sharply among those in work. Self-employed workers were disproportionately affected, with the rate of poverty rising from 9 to 13,1 percent. The rate rose to 17,9 percent among pensioners and to 20,8 percent among children and young people.

The data also shows significant variations between the federal states. While states like Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria did comparatively well, five states have above-average poverty rates: North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Bremen.

Against a backdrop of rising inflation, Der Paritätische called on the government to provide more support to people struggling by increasing basic subsistence rates, as well as housing benefits and student loans. 



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