Richest in Germany own around two thirds of country’s wealth

Germany's already high level of wealth inequality has been significantly underestimated, according to a new study.

Richest in Germany own around two thirds of country's wealth
Photo: DPA

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has found that the richest one percent in Germany own 35 percent of the total wealth in Germany – instead of just under 22 percent as previously thought, reported Spiegel on Wednesday.

And the top 10 percent of the population do not own 59 percent of total assets, as previously estimated – but around two thirds or 66 percent.

To put it into context, nobody in the bottom 50 percent of the German population has a net worth over €22,800. On average, the poorest 50 percent of the German population has a net worth of €3,700.

Moreover, the so-called Gini coefficient (used to measure inequality) is higher in Germany than previously thought. It is 0.81 instead of 0.78. If this number is zero, all households in a society would have an equally high income. If it is 1, the entire income goes to a single household, while everyone else receives nothing.

“Germany's already high wealth inequality has been significantly underestimated,” said Johannes König, one of the authors. “We are now seeing for the first time a more realistic picture of the distribution at the top.”

READ ALSO: This is how many millionaires live in Germany

Millionaires significantly more satisfied than the rest of the population

DIW researchers developed took a closer look at the group of wealthy millionaires in Germany.

This group includes an above-average number of men (69 percent) who are older and better educated than the average population, and who live for the most part in western Germany. Around three quarters of the millionaires are self-employed. A large part of their wealth is invested in company shares.

According to Zeit Online, the respondents earn more than €7,600 net per month, more than three times the average. Only 14 percent have a migration background. For the rest of the population this applies to every fourth person.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, scientists found that wealthy millionaires are significantly more satisfied than the rest of the population. Only with regard to leisure time was satisfaction lower.

READ ALSO: Who belongs to the top 10 percent of earners in Germany?

According to the authors, this is due to the significantly higher workload. The survey found millionaires work an average of 47 hours a week – around 10 hours more than the rest of the population.

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.