How has poverty increased

Press releases

According to the current Paritätische Poverty Report, the poverty rate in Germany has reached 15.9 percent (mathematically 13.2 million people), a new sad record and the highest value since reunification. The Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband warns in the study that everything indicates that the effects of the Corona crisis will noticeably exacerbate poverty and social inequality. The association accuses the federal government of a “refusal of poverty policy” and, under the heading “Money helps against poverty”, calls for an immediate increase in financial support for poor people as well as poverty-proof social security reforms.

“The available data on the regional distribution, development and structure of poverty show Germany as a country deeply torn by growing inequality. More and more people live marginalized and in poverty because they lack the income to make a living and to participate in our society on an equal basis and with dignity. Economic successes have not reached the poor for years and the poor are largely ignored in the current crisis rescue packages. What we are experiencing on the part of the federal government is no longer just ignorance of poverty policy, but an already deliberate refusal, ”criticizes Ulrich Schneider, General Manager of the Paritätischer Gesamtverband.

The findings of this year's poverty report are alarming: In all groups that have been particularly affected by poverty for years (such as single parents, the unemployed and families with many children), poverty increased again from 2018 to 2019. Looking at the composition of the poor adult group, the vast majority of them are employed (33.0 percent) or retired (29.6 percent). From a regional perspective, poverty grew practically across the board in 2019 compared to the previous year. The positive developments that were recently observed in the eastern German federal states have come to an end.

In terms of poverty, Germany is divided into two parts: In the well-off south, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have a joint poverty rate of 12.1 percent. The rest of the republic, from the east to the north to the west, has a combined rate of 17.4 percent. Outside of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, on average, more than one in six lives below the poverty line. In terms of poverty density and dynamism, North Rhine-Westphalia remains the most problematic federal state: Since 2006, the poverty rate in the densely populated state has grown two and a half times as fast as the overall German rate. The driver of poverty in NRW is the Ruhr area with a poverty rate of 21.4 percent. The largest metropolitan area in Germany must therefore undoubtedly be the number 1 problem region.

The association warns of a drastic worsening of poverty in 2020 in view of the current corona pandemic. Marginally employed people and young people who are already affected by growing unemployment due to the corona are particularly affected. “For years, Corona has brought to light problems that have been played down and repressed, from the provision of housing to low-income households to the educational segregation of poor children. An increasing number of unemployed are encountering a social security system that did not protect against poverty even before the Corona and whose weaknesses are now becoming even more apparent, "says Ulrich Schneider.

The paritätische calls for the redistribution of existing financial resources to eradicate poverty. “It would be up to Germany to abolish its income poverty and at the same time to ensure a good social infrastructure. It sounds banal and many people don't like to hear it: But money helps against income poverty, existential fears and a lack of participation, ”says Schneider. Specifically, a need-based increase in the standard rates in Hartz IV and basic old-age security (according to calculations by the Paritätische Forschungsstelle to at least 644 euros), the introduction of basic child security and reforms of unemployment and pension insurance are necessary.

The report and a detailed search function for poverty rates by postcode can be found at: