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

Richest in Germany own around two thirds of country's wealth
Photo: DPA
Germany's already high level of wealth inequality has been significantly underestimated, according to a new study.

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.”

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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.

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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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