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Where in Germany do people have the most (and least) disposable income?

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Where in Germany do people have the most (and least) disposable income?
Two people enjoy the view at the Starnberger See in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Katrin Requadt | Katrin Requadt

The wealthiest people in Germany don't necessarily live in the country's most expensive cities, according to new data on disposable income in the Bundesrepublik.


The German Economic Institute (IW) looked at how much disposable income people across the country have based on a price index of two million data points.

READ ALSO: where are the cheapest and most expensive places to live in Germany?

The richest area is the Bavarian district of Starnberg, where people earn an average of €32,800 once costs like rent are factored in, a third higher than the national average.

Other well-to-do districts include Munich, Baden-Baden and Miesbach, all in Germany’s south.

Meanwhile the poorest is Gelsenkirchen in the post-industrial Ruhrpott region, where people earn just €18,500 a year, 22.5 percent lower than the national average.

Other poorer areas in Germany are mostly smaller cities like Offenbach am Main, Duisburg, Herne and Freiburg.


Where does cost of living make a big difference?

Outside of these outliers, differences in income are leveled out by price differences to some extent.

This particularly applies to some large cities like Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg, where earnings are quite high but then high costs of living mean that there isn’t much left over at the end of the month.

Out of smaller cities, student hubs Heidelberg, Ingolstadt and Friesing have a big difference between income and affordability.

READ ALSO: The German university towns where property prices are going up (and down)

But in general, “the spread is getting smaller,” says Christoph Schröder from the IW and differences between eastern and western Germany have also decreased.

But the places which climbed the rankings most due to a low cost of living were all rural areas, in particular Bavaria’s Tirschenreuth and Rheinland Palatinate’s Vulkaneifel.


Disposable income in Europe

Germany is seen by many as a relatively equal and relatively wealthy country.

According to figures from Eurostat published in October, that's about right.

The median disposable income was between €22,000 and €25,000 annually, lower than its DACH neighbours in Austria and Switzerland but ahead of France and around the same as Belgium and über-expensive Iceland. 

For income equality it lags behind social-democratic Scandinavia, but is about as equal to France. 




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