Study finds poor need just €132 per month to survive

German Hartz-IV welfare benefits are too high, according to a controversial new study released this week. People supposedly only need €132 ($191) per month to ensure survival – and that means no smoking, drinking, or fun.

Study finds poor need just €132 per month to survive
A worker puts up a recent German anti-poverty advertisement. Photo: DPA

Study authors Friedrich Thießen and Christian Fischer from the Technical University of Chemnitz allotted a maximum allowance of just €278, a sum that includes money for alcohol and cigarettes. Their bare minimum sum of €132 (which does not include housing, energy, alcohol or cigarette costs) doesn’t allow for such creature comforts, and allows for €1 for entertainment, and €2 for communication. Children would get just €79 according to their figures.

But some social welfare experts attacked the study, which was published in this month’s economics magazine “Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik.”

“That is about enough for the monthly needs of a dog in an animal shelter,” Hartz IV expert Rudolf Martens from the social justice organization Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband told news agency AP.

Martens said the study’s figures were comparable to poverty relief in 1900.

The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) also slammed the study as cynical and one-sided. While many feel the German government is bleeding money on social welfare benefits – €45.6 billion in 2006 – reducing the minimum amount of help for poor Germans would exacerbate income disparity, the DGB said.

In 2006, some 8.3 million Germans – 10.1 percent of the population – received welfare benefits, according to Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) figures released on Thursday. The average monthly allowance of welfare benefits in Germany today averages €351.