Almost every seventh child in German is dependent on welfare funds

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Almost every seventh child in German is dependent on welfare funds
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Nearly every seventh child in Germany required assistance from Hartz IV last year, says the newest report from the German Federal Employment Agency (BA). Only 5 years ago, the rate was one in every eight children.


Even higher is the rate for children under the age of three: nearly every sixth three year old lives in a family where the additional financial assistance is required.

Hartz IV is a social security programme introduced in 2005 which gives money to families in Germany where the head of the household is in long-term unemployment or earns a low salary. Much of this is coordinated by job centres across the country.

In total, 2,052 million children and adolescents lived in families receiving the federal funding in June 2017. This is 5.2 percent more than in June of 2016, and roughly 8 percent more than five years ago.

BA attributes the relatively strong increase in the Hartz IV programme to families with children to the growing number of foreign families who are seeking work and living on unemployment benefits. A spokesperson for the BA said that a large role is being played by the number of refugees.

Under the German system, if refugees don’t find a job immediately after completing the asylum procedure, which includes integration and language courses, then job centres must find a way to sustain their livelihood in Germany.

According to the BA study, 583,600 of the children reliant on the government funds under Hartz IV in the middle of 2017 were from foreign families. Compared to June 2016, this represents a jump of 41.1 percent. 

READ MORE: Hundreds of thousands more children at risk of poverty, official report shows

The increase in the number of children from foreign households receiving this government funding is most pronounced between 2016 and 2017, when the impact of the refugee influx on job centres became apparent, claimed the study.

For example, between June 2013 and June 2017, the number of adolescent Syrians dependant on Hartz IV increased from 7,659 to 205,200. The Number of young Afghan recipients quadrupled during this period to 37,061, and Iraqi children receiving funds under the Hartz program more than doubled to 51,055 people.

Migrant families from within the EU also increased the number of young Hartz IV recipients. The number of young people receiving benefits from Bulgaria, for example was five times higher this year than in mid-2013, showed the BA study.

The BA’s assessment of growing poverty facing Germany’s children is also shared by Nuremberg labour market researcher Thorsten Lietzmann. He notes that there are new groups, like refugees, that require the aid of federal welfare, and notes that “this is particularly clear in the case of children”.

In stark contrast, the number of German children that are dependent on the Hartz IV has steadily declined, Lietzmann made clear. The reason, he claims, is the overall decreasing rate of long-term unemployment for Germans.

Whether or not a child will need to receive funds from the Hartz programme, however, depends heavily on the region in which the family lives. Bavaria ranks as the state with the lowest rate of children needing state welfare: Only 6.8 percent of the all children under 18 in the southern state require Hartz IV funding. This is followed by Baden-Württemberg with 8.4 percent.

In cities like Bremen or Berlin, however, almost every third child under 18 needs state support.

LEARN MORE: German's biggest concern is immigration, but poverty is catching up



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