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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Facing up to racism, Erdbeersaison and Schleswig-Holstein votes

In our weekend roundup for Germany we explore a study on racism, strawberry season and take a look at the state election in Schleswig-Holstein.

Schleswig-Holstein's state premier Daniel Günther on the campaign trail ahead of the state elections.
Schleswig-Holstein's state premier Daniel Günther on the campaign trail ahead of the state elections. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

Can Germany face up to its racism problem?

Many of you have told of us about the discrimination and racism you’ve faced in Germany, particulary when it comes to trying to find a place to rent and in working life. So we were interested to report on a study on how people in Germany perceive the issue of racism.

According to the survey by the newly set up Racism Monitor more than a fifth of the population (22 percent) – said they had been affected by racism, and 45 percent said they had seen racist incidents. And nearly all respondents to the survey – 90 percent – said they believed that racism existed in the country.

Tareq Alaows, a Syrian refugee who hoped to run for German parliament last year but changed his mind due to racism and threats, tweeted that the study was a “wake-up call to our society to finally look and recognise racism as the danger it is”. He said the study also showed the “anti-racist potential in society”.“This must open the debate and move us all to action,” Alaows said. 

Tweet of the week

Sometimes you just have to take a break from the big problems of the world and tweet about Star Wars. We see you, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. 

Where is this? 

Photo: DPA/Daniel Bockwoldt

We hear a lot about Spargelzeit (asparagus season) in spring, but what about Erdbeersaison? Yes, strawberry season is underway as this photo from Grömitz in Schleswig-Holstein shows. Starting from now and throughout summer, you can expect to see strawberry ‘pop-up’ shops around the country on the side of roads and on streets.

And it’s not just strawberries they sell. You will also come across boxes of fresh blueberries and, later in the season, Pfifferlinge (chanterelle) mushrooms. We thoroughly recommend that you get out into the countryside and pick up some fresh produce in the coming weeks and months. 

Did you know?

The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein will elect a new parliament on Sunday, May 8th so we thought we’d look at what makes this northern state tick politically. With 2.9 million residents, the state, between the North Sea and Baltic Sea, is the second smallest German state after Saarland.

Christian Democrat Daniel Günther has led the state since the last election in 2017. He governs with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) and is standing for re-election. Recent polls put the CDU in the lead, so this constellation could return. But other coalitions are possible. Important topics for this state include green energy – the state has been racing ahead with its wind energy production and, according to experts, it wants to show how it is key to Germany getting away from relying on Russian energy.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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For members

MONEY

When are people in Germany retiring?

The retirement age in Germany has been rising for years. But last year, people retired a little earlier - and they received slightly higher pensions than those who became pensioners the previous year, according to a report.

When are people in Germany retiring?

Politicians and economists have been arguing that people in Germany will have to retire later in life due to the ageing society. But a new report showed German residents actually entered their retirement phase of life slightly earlier last year than the previous year. 

According to figures from the German Pension Insurance Fund, a total of 1.435 million employees retired in Germany in 2021.

On average, men retired at the age of 64.05, while in 2020 the retirement age for them was 64.07. Women retired at 64.18 – compared to 64.24 the previous year.

Despite the recent slight decline, there has been a different trend for a long time, reported German magazine Spiegel. The average time that people have been subject to pension insurance has increased by four years since the beginning of the noughties. In 2000, for instance, only 10 percent of 60-64 year-olds were subject to pension insurance, whereas recently it has climbed to more than 40 percent.

The fact that this is now changing, at least slightly, could have something to do with the increasing salaries of new pensioners. When it comes to old-age pensions, men received an average of €1,204 in 2021, compared to €1,171 net the previous year. Women got €856 in 2021 compared to €827 the year before. 

READ MORE: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

For reduced earning-capacity pensions, men received an average of €956 (compared to €914 in 2020) net per month, and women received €882 (€851 in 2020).

The highest average pensions were received by people who retired with the deduction-free pension after 45 years of insurance (known as ‘Rente mit 63‘ or pension at 63 in Germany). For men, the average pension payment in this case after deduction of health and long-term care insurance contributions was €1,579 per month, and for women it was €1,235.

Figures show that older people in Germany – especially the highly qualified – are increasingly working to the retirement age – and even beyond. However, many baby boomers would rather get out sooner than later. Furthermore, the retirement age can’t be postponed in some cases such as physically demanding jobs.

When calculating state pensions in Germany, the number of years worked, your age, and average income determine what people receive. 

What is the current retirement age in Germany?

The age of retirement in Germany has been slowly increasing since the year 2012, when a government reform raised it from 65 to an eventual age of 67.

Currently, the age of retirement is being raised by a month each year. People who were born in the year 1956 and celebrated their 65th birthday last year will likely have to wait until they are 10 months past their 65th birthday before they can celebrate their retirement.

Starting in the year 2024, the age of retirement will be raised by two months every year until it hits a ceiling of 67. That means that people born in the year 1964 will have to wait until their 67th birthday before they can start to enjoy their next phase of life after working. 

Germany’s ruling coalition – made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) – have not agreed on pushing up the retirement age, although they are examining the issue of how to keep the pensions system afloat.

READ ALSO: Pensions: How the new government plans to solve an old-age issue

Some experts in Germany say the retirement age will definitely have to be raised further because people are living longer and there won’t be enough workers paying for pensioners in future. 

The head of the German pension insurance, Gundula Roßbach, warned months ago that politicians would have to “keep a close eye” on the development.

READ ALSO: Could people in Germany soon be working until they are 68?

Vocabulary

Pensioners – (die) Rentner

Pensions/old-age pensions – (die) Altersrenten

Reduced in earning capacity pensions – (die) Erwerbsminderungsrenten

Pension insurance – (die) Rentenversicherung

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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