Income gap in Germany at record high – study

© Leonhard Foeger
Income disparity in Germany is growing and has hit a new record recently, a new German study says, adding that the income gap is also becoming steadier despite strong employment figures and a robust economy.

The rich/poor divide has hit new levels in Germany in recent years, a study published on Monday by the Institute of Economics and Social Sciences (WSI) of the Hans Boeckler Foudnation showed.

The percentage of Germans living in poverty increased from 11 percent in 1993 to 15.3 percent in 2013, the research also said, adding that the chances for social and economic advancement for poor people are fading away.

Between 1991 and 1995, about 58 percent of people that were considered to be poor managed to increase their income and move to a high income group, the study said, stressing that, between 2009 and 2013, only half of the people from lower social strata could do the same.

In Germany, people are considered to be poor if their income is 60 percent or less of the average income in Germany. In 2013, it amounted to about €980 ($1,089) as the average income in Germany accounted for €1,633 ($1,822). People, who earned more than €4,900 ($5,468), were considered rich.

At the same time, richer Germans have quite secure prospects, the study noted, adding that 60 percent of people considered to be very rich were able to maintain their income and high social status between 2009 and 2013, while, between 1991 and 1995, the percentage of such people amounted to 50 percent.

The results of the research were based on an annual poll in which more than 10,000 Germans took part.

“Today, the rich remain rich and the poor remain poor,” Anke Hassel, the head of the WSI, told German media, commenting on the results of the research.

At the same time, Dorothee Spannagel, a researcher at the WSI, who took part in the study, warned that middle class Germans are now facing a growing risk of becoming poorer. She also stressed that such factors as education and longtime unemployment play a major role in increasing the income gap and making it steadier.

The study showed that people with lower education level face a greater risk of remaining poor. According to the research, 63 percent of those who did not manage to increase their income between 2009 and 2013, had only general secondary education, while two thirds of those who rose to a higher income bracket, graduated from a university or college.

The researchers also said that in Germany, a child’s educational success is highly dependent on the social and economic status of the family as well as on the origins of the parents. According to the study, children of university graduates have significantly better chances of getting into.

As a result, researchers called on politicians to support those in poverty by providing more vocational training and career counseling. "The goal must be to provide such people with long-term, secure full-time employment," they said, as quoted by Deutsche Welle.