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Are Germans poor in European terms?
Photo: DPA

Are Germans poor in European terms?

Published: 29 Mar 2013 14:48 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Mar 2013 14:48 GMT+01:00

A long-awaited study by Germany’s Bundesbank has sparked a debate about the relative wealth of Germans and their European counterparts.

Figures contained in the report "Households and their finances" showed that the average value of assets per household was significantly lower in Germany than in France, Spain, Italy and Austria.

Commentators were swift to put the figures in the context of Germany’s role in the eurozone crisis. Television channel RTL reported on ordinary hard-working Germans supporting their much wealthier European counterparts.

Joachim Poß, parliamentary member of the centre–left SPD party, said “Before European taxpayers’ money is paid out, countries that want to help should pay more attention to private wealth.”

But the applicability of the figures produced by the Bundesbank is limited on a number of levels. The data from Spain dates back to 2008, before the housing market collapsed. "Average" household wealth was measured by the median, which is the value in the middle when figures are listed in ascending order, rather than the mean, which is the figure landed at when all values are divided by the number of households in question.

While both Germany’s mean and median values are low in comparison to other countries, the difference in the median value is more marked. The data also did not take into account pensions and social welfare payments.

Home ownership, which is far less common in Germany than elsewhere in Europe, is likely to have had a big impact on the figures.

While the effects of Germany's robust economy may not be being felt on the ground, a separate report released last week found that Germans were at less risk of poverty than the EU as a whole.

The Local/kkf

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:47 March 29, 2013 by Englishted
Please stop the spinning I'm getting giddy and sick.
19:14 March 29, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
It is always a question of averages and these reflect only part of the truth. There is plenty of wealth in Germany, but most of it is in the hands of a lucky few. The normal working citizens are left with the debts made by a series of governments which have in vain tried to buy the friendship of other states.
20:51 March 29, 2013 by ovalle3.14
This is certainly not a poor country, and on a macro scale it is a very rich country indeed, but if you believe what the official sources feed you, you'd think all of us working in this country are getting richer by the hour when the truth is somewhat different.

Like Mr. Ingle above put it, this wealth is staying in the hands of a few individuals.
14:38 March 30, 2013 by Englishted
@ovalle3.14

The wealth is not just staying in the hands of a few ,that few are increasing the gap year on year often by pushing the poorest in society closer to poverty .

A trend that is being repeated across the developed world, we seem to be going backwards not forwards .
15:55 March 30, 2013 by Tilak RaJ
It is like every where here in Germany also the same things, that wealth is staying in the hands of a few individuals.
07:36 March 31, 2013 by owlguard
I have to agree with #1. The article was so full of spin that it was obviously done to confuse and defuse what would otherwise be a very insulting report. Germany who is being asked to come up with more money to support countries who citizens are better off than they are.

I would like to hear from German citizens and what they think of this report.
08:20 March 31, 2013 by Wolfgang Fritz
I also agree in that this is misleading the public, to claim Germans with such low unemployment are worst off than those with such high unemployment.

To end with that they are not, however, subject to poverty contradicts the initial premise in that they worst off.
21:40 March 31, 2013 by tangledeuro
Germans keep calm and hide all the Money..let them finish their study with a wrong result..!!
15:43 April 3, 2013 by veronica22
give me just 1 piece of 500 euro paper every month , am just very happy and satisfied to deal with it ~~~~~
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