Increasing gap between poor and rich regions

Rich south, poor east and particularly poor North Rhine-Westphalia: This is how the Paritätische Gesamtverband describes the situation in Germany in its new poverty report.

A begging woman kneels on the sidewalk of a shopping street.

“The gap between prosperous regions on the one hand and poor regions on the other is growing steadily and clearly, and the rift has long since ceased to run only between east and west,” explained the general manager of the Paritätischer Gesamtverband.Ulrich Schneider.

According to a study recently published by the association, the poverty rate in Germany fell from 15.8 percent in 2017 to 15.5 percent in 2018. This means that 210,000 fewer people lived below the poverty line. But in a good quarter of the 95 regions examined, poverty has risen by more than 20 percent in the past ten years, the Paritätische Gesamtverband complained.

Problem region of the Ruhr area

The Ruhr area remains “problem region number one” with a poverty rate of 21.1 percent and 5.8 million inhabitants, the association said. Hesse is also causing concern – in the state, the rate has risen from 12.7 to 15.8 percent since 2008. Nationwide, poverty in old age also shows a “special dynamic”. Every fifth child also lives in poverty.

According to the information, things are looking comparatively good in the south of the republic: Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have a joint poverty rate of 11.8 percent. In North Rhine-Westphalia it is 18.1 percent, and in the eastern federal states together it is 17.5 percent.

The paritätische called for a “master plan to eradicate poverty”. This must include “the policy fields of work, housing, old-age security, care, health, family, education and participation”. Specifically, the association demands, among other things, a minimum wage of 13 euros per hour and the introduction of a basic child benefit.

Increase in the Hartz IV rate

The Hartz IV standard rate is to be increased from 424 to 582 euros; In addition, the sanctions against Hartz IV recipients would have to be abolished. According to the association’s wishes, long-term care insurance is to be rebuilt in such a way that those in need of care and their relatives do not have to pay any or only significantly reduced personal contributions.

The paritätische based its investigation on data from the Federal Statistical Office from the so-called microcensus. Someone who has less than 60 percent of the median income is defined as poor. State benefits such as housing benefit and child benefit are also taken into account.