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BUSINESS

Germany’s greatest fear? The euro debt crisis

Germans say they worry about the European debt crisis more than anything else, according to a survey released on Thursday revealing the country’s biggest concerns.

Germany's greatest fear? The euro debt crisis
Photo: DPA

It was the greatest worry for 68 percent of those asked in the annual survey for insurers R+V Versicherung – down five percent on last year but still enough for top spot.

This is the second year in a row that Germans listed the European debt crisis as their greatest worry.

Manfred Schmidt, a political scientist at the University of Heidelberg said: “The fear is understandable. The management of the debt crisis by the European Union could still be expensive for German taxpayers,” the Bild newspaper reported.

But despite the economic crisis, the fear that politicians were not capable of dealing with problems was at its lowest level since 2001, with 45 percent saying it was a worry. It suggests that trust in the ability of politicians is surprisingly high three weeks before Germans go to the polls.

Inflation took second spot, with 61 percent saying they were concerned about it, down slightly on last year. German wages have struggled to keep up with rising energy, fuel and food prices.

Natural catastrophes were up one place to third in this year’s survey, with 56 percent concerned. It follows serious flooding in eastern Germany this spring. Fear of natural catastrophes reached a peak in 2010’s survey after a volcano erupted in Iceland and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Concern about care in old age rose five percent to fourth spot. Women were more concerned about health care and illness than men.

The most optimistic people, meanwhile, were Berliners and those living in Thuringia. The most pessimistic German states were Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Bavaria.

Fear of unemployment scored 36 percent, while 32 percent of the 2,400 respondents said they were worried about the Syria crisis.

DPA/The Local/tsb

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MONEY

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

An economic study has shown huge regional differences in income throughout Germany. So which parts of the country have the most to spend each month, and which are feeling the squeeze?

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

A study by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler foundation reveals stark regional differences in disposable income in Germany. In some cases, households had as much as double the spending money of those in other parts of the country. 

Here’s where people have the most – and least – disposable income each month.

What is disposable income?

The WSI calculated disposable income as the sum of income from wealth and employment, minus social contributions, income taxes, property taxes and other direct benefits or taxes.

What’s left is the income which private households can either spend on consumer goods or save.

The study, which was based on the most recent available national accounts data for 2019, looked at the disposable income of all of the 401 counties, districts and cities across Germany.

Which regions have the highest and lowest disposable incomes?

The study found that the regions with the highest disposable incomes were in the southern states.

Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg had the highest disposable income of all 401 German counties and independent cities – with an average per capita disposable income of €42,275. The district of Starnberg in Bayern followed in second place with €38,509.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

By comparison, per capita incomes in the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia were less than half as high, at €17,015 and €17,741 respectively. These regions had the lowest disposable income in the country. 

The study also found that, more than thirty years since German reunification, the eastern regions continue to lag behind those in the west in terms of wages.

According to the WSI, the Potsdam-Mittelmark district is the only district in the former east where the disposable per capita income of €24,127 exceeds the national average of €23,706.

Do regional price differences balance things out?

The study also showed that regionally different price levels contribute to a certain levelling out of disposable incomes, as regions with high incomes also tend to have higher rents and other living costs.

“People then have more money in their wallets, but they cannot afford more to the same extent,” WSI scientist Toralf Pusch explained.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When will Germany raise the minimum wage?

Therefore, incomes in the eastern states, adjusted for purchasing power, are generally somewhat higher than the per capita amounts would suggest.

That could explain why, even after price adjustment, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in western Germany continue to be at the very bottom of the list.

Saxon-Anhalt’s Halle an der Saale, on the other hand, which has an average disposable income of only €18,527, benefits from the lower prices in the east.

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