Child poverty in Germany reaches record high: Report

31 Mar 2024 07:00pm
A mother and her daughter sit on a swing at a playground at the Nordstadt, which is considered a social hotspot, with high unemployment, poverty and crime, in Dortmund, western Germany on July 10, 2023. - (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)
A mother and her daughter sit on a swing at a playground at the Nordstadt, which is considered a social hotspot, with high unemployment, poverty and crime, in Dortmund, western Germany on July 10, 2023. - (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)
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BERLIN - Child poverty in Germany has reached a record high, with one in five children affected in 2022, a German welfare association said on Tuesday.

Around 14.2 million people in Europe's largest economy are living in poverty, said the association Paritaetische Gesamtverband in a report. Single parents, large families, and people with few educational qualifications or without German citizenship have been hit the hardest, reported Xinhua.

"Poverty in Germany remained at a very high level in 2022," said Ulrich Schneider, managing director of the association. Compared to the previous year, the number was slightly lower, but still 1 million higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic and the energy crisis in 2019.

Since 2006, there has been "an almost unbroken trend of steadily increasing poverty," Schneider said, adding that although this has now been "stopped for the time being," it has "by no means reversed". In 2023, such a shift cannot be expected either, "in view of the economic and labor market conditions".

Amid the recession in late 2023, almost 2.64 million people in Germany were unemployed, which is 183,000 more than a year earlier. "The weak economy has not left the labor market unscathed," said Andrea Nahles, head of the Federal Employment Agency.

Over the past two years, the German government has countered sharply rising consumer prices with extensive relief measures, such as tax cuts and energy price caps. The minimum wage was also raised in two stages, from €10.45 (about US$11.29 US dollars) to €12.41.

However, the Paritaetische Gesamtverband considers this to be insufficient and is calling for an increase in the minimum wage to 15 euros. Childcare should also be expanded, and basic child insurance should be set up to protect against poverty, the association said.

The German government wants to implement basic child protection by 2025, but talks on the matter have stalled due to budget constraints following the failed reallocation of Covid-19 relief funds for climate protection. Of the €12 billion originally planned for the measure, only €2.4 billion remain.

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The move towards merging different benefits for children into one instrument is positive, "but the current plans are more of an administrative reform than a genuine basic child insurance scheme", said Bettina Kohlrausch, scientific director of the Institute of Economic and Social Research. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollar). - BERNAMA

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