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More than one in five children in Germany 'at risk of poverty'

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More than one in five children in Germany 'at risk of poverty'
Children at a kindergarten in Potsdam stand next to each other and hold hands. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

More than one in five children and one in four young adults in Germany are at risk of poverty, according to a study - with young people in the northern state of Bremen most likely to be affected.

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A study published Thursday by the Bertelsmann Foundation has found that nearly 2.9 million children and young people are at risk of poverty nationwide.

Those considered at risk of poverty are children and young people in families with incomes below 60 percent of the median household income in Germany.

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Among the children most affected are boys and girls in single-parent families or in multi-child families with three or more adolescents, according to the study.

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In the group of young adults aged 18 to 25, 1.55 million people - a share of 25.5 percent - were at risk of poverty. The current crises and price increases have exacerbated the problem, the study found.

The study also uncovered considerable regional differences: the at-risk-of-poverty rate is highest in Bremen, lowest in Bavaria, and the most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, is in the middle.

The northern German cities of Bremerhaven (36.3) and Bremen (30.9) have high rates of children and young people in receipt of SGB II benefits, while rural regions such as Roth in Bavaria (2.7), Biberach in Baden-Württemberg (5.2) and Eichsfeld in Thuringia (6.6) have rates of well below 10 percent.

The foundation called for countermeasures from the German government to combat the issue.

"Child and youth poverty remains an unsolved problem in Germany," it said. It also urged the government to adopt the basic child benefit promised in the coalition agreement to be adopted "as quickly as possible". 

The German government is planning to bring in the basic child allowance scheme in 2025, which will replace the current child benefits system with a more diverse range of family support payments.

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"Those who grow up in poverty as young people suffer daily deprivation and shame, and at the same time have significantly poorer prospects for the future," said Anette Stein, director of the Education and Next Generation program at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

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