Tuesday, September 13, 2016

German Poverty

Child poverty has grown even as Germany has become richer, according to a study. Germany does not lack the bare necessities. Food, shelter, winter clothing, medication, and schooling are generally available. The Bertelsmann Foundation reveals that almost 2 million German children live in families who have received welfare for at least five years. One in five children in eastern Germany are poor. In Berlin, every third child grows up poor.

Children whose parents depend on basic state support, known as Hartz IV, are also considered to be poor. Frequently lacking access to fresh produce, poor children are often insufficiently nourished and at risk of illness. The study also found that children from poor homes are often socially isolated. Their families cannot afford school excursions, sports activities or music lessons. Poor children often do not have their own bedrooms and, consequently, no place to retreat or do their homework.

All of this leads to educational disadvantages. "Their entire educational background encompasses more problems than children whose families have secure incomes," said Annette Stein, who works on family policy at the Bertelsmann Foundation. "The longer children live in poverty, the higher the risk of being influenced negatively by their lot in life."

The number of olde 5.6 million residents over 55 were living in poverty or affected by social marginalization. This is a stark increase - nearly 25 percent - from a decade ago, when the number stood at 4.5 million Germans living on meager means has increased 25 percent in ten years, another report says. At 20.7 percent, the rate of poverty among the elderly in Germany is just under the EU average of 20.9 percent. But it is far above that in neighboring Netherlands, which has just 11.9 percent of its elderly population in dire financial straits. According to the latest figures from the German Labor Ministry, the number of retirees still holding down minor employment has increased by 22 percent since 2010 to 943,000. Ten years ago this was less than 700,000. A particularly large increase has been reported among pensioners aged 75 and over. By the end of 2015, just under 176,000 seniors in this age group were working in a so-called "mini-job" - or part-time job paying 450 euros ($504) monthly. This is a sharp increase, amounting to more than twice as many as in 2005. Left party politician Matthias Birkwald said those affected are "not working for fun, but because the pension is not enough to live on."

"Poverty is spreading all over Germany," said Sabine Zimmerman, a member of parliament with the opposition Left party. 

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