As many as 13 million Germans, 15.6 percent of the population, are in danger of falling into poverty, the latest statistics, from 2009, show. That is a significantly higher proportion than in Austria, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Overall, though, Germans are relatively well-off, since the overall average of the European Union is 16.4 percent.
The official definition of being “in danger of poverty” is anyone whose income – including state benefits – is less than 60 percent of the national average. In Germany that means anyone living on less than €940 a month is officially vulnerable to poverty.
By this standard, the Czech Republic has the lowest poverty rate, at only nine percent, followed by the Netherlands at 10 percent and Austria at around 12 percent.
The rate has edged up slightly in Germany in the past few years. In 2007, only 15 percent were threatened with poverty.
But taken as a whole, wealth in Germany is relatively well-distributed compared to the rest of the EU. The richest 20 percent of Germans earn around four times as much as the poorest – while the EU average is five times as much.