Almost 2 million children in Germany living in poverty

DPA/The Local
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Almost 2 million children in Germany living in poverty
Photo: DPA

Despite steady growth in the economy and record low unemployment figures, child poverty is on the rise in Germany.


But the number of minors whose families are supported by welfare varies dramatically from state to state, the Bertelsmann Foundation report on child poverty published on Monday revealed.

According to the study, the percentage of minors in the states of former West Germany whose families live off Hart IV, the most basic form of welfare payment, rose from 12.4 percent in January 2011 to 13.2 percent in 2015.

In the states of former East Germany on the other hand, the number dropped by 2.4 percent in the same period, but at 21.6 percent, the East still lies far above the rate in the West.

In raw numbers, the data shows that 1.9 million minors were growing up in poverty in Germany in 2015, an increase of 52,000 on the previous year.

The researchers warn that children in poverty risk getting stuck there, pointing to evidence that 57.2 percent of children between the ages of seven and 15 had been supported by basic welfare for a period of at least three years.

“The longer that a child lives on welfare, the worse the consequences are,” said Anette Stein, families expert at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Numerous studies conducted over recent years show that children who grow up dependent on welfare are more socially isolated, suffer more regularly from health issues and encounter more problems during their education than contemporaries whose families do not receive social welfare payments.

Most vulnerable to poverty are children of single parents or those with a large number of brothers and sisters.

At almost one million, more than half the children growing up with Hartz IV, are from single-parent households. Meanwhile 36 percent of the 1.9 million children in Harz IV homes have at least two siblings.

Children who grow up in cities are also much more likely to have parents who receive social welfare - in some urban centres, this is the case for over one in three children.

The worst affected regions are Bremen Harbour, where 40.5 percent of all children grow up on Hartz IV, and Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, where this is the case for 38.5 percent of children.

In Berlin almost one in three children live in homes dependent on basic social welfare.

By contrast in the wealthy southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, 6.8 and 8 percent of children live on Hartz IV respectively, the lowest numbers in the country.

Source: Bertelsmann Foundation


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