Fewer Germans Living in Poverty But Risks Remain, Study Shows | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 16.09.2008
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Fewer Germans Living in Poverty But Risks Remain, Study Shows

For the first time in ten years, Germany has witnessed a fall in the number of households under the poverty line, according to a new report published on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

An unidentified man looks at a garbage can for salvageable items

Fewer Germans now have to resort to fishing from bins to make ends meet

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) report stated that the percentage of Germans living in poverty fell to 16.5 percent in 2006, down from 18 percent in the previous year. That works out to be more than a million people less.

The 2006 figures are the most recent available, the DIW added in its report.

The DIW credited the reforms in the employment sector with the drop in the poverty figures.

However, the report added that those who have been living in poverty run the risk of remaining poor for longer and that unemployment continued to play the biggest role in poverty in Germany.

The long-term unemployed and those without occupational training continued to be most at risk.

People staying poorer for longer

A man begs for money in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

More people are enduring longer periods of poverty

The DIW study showed that the number of families which have lived below the breadline for at least two years has risen in the last decade from around six percent to 12 percent in 2007.

And while the situation in the job market continues to improve, and the divide between high and low income earners begins to slow, the risk of unemployment still remains, DIW chief Klaus Zimmermann said.

The DIW considers as poor those who are single and who earn less than 891 euro-per-month, and couples who earn less than 1871 euro-per-month together with two children. That applies to almost 60 percent of middle income, employed people in Germany.

The Green party warned that the report was not "an all-clear signal". Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, a member of the Green faction in the Bundestag and a poverty expert, said that 14 million still lived below the poverty line, a figure which is still four million higher than it was in 2000.

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