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Europe

Germany Beats EU Wealth Average, With Disparities

A study on wealth distribution in the EU showed strong disparities within Germany, with residents of Hamburg having the most money to spend, and those in Brandenburg the least.

lady's be-ringed hand, waving a sheaf of money

Germans are wealthier than more than half of the EU; Hamburg is richest of all

Within Europe, residents of inner-London topped the purchasing-power charts. They are more than three times richer than the European Union average, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant.

Hamburg's Speicherstadt neighborhood, an old trading center

Hamburg is rich in waterways -- and money

The poorest members of the EU were all found in parts of Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, where wealth is less than a third of the bloc's average.

All the figures were based on 2005 GDP data, adjusted to take national price levels into account. The study was released by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office. Results confirmed studies carried out in previous years.

Central London tops the list

Average GDP per head in central London is estimated at 67,798 euros (about $98,600), some 303 percent of the EU average of 22,400 euros. By contrast, the EU's poorest citizens, who live in northeast Romania, have to make do with average GDP per head levels of just 7,542 euros -- just 24 percent of the EU average.

Following London in the regional ranks of GDP per inhabitant were Luxembourg, where GDP is 264 percent of the EU average, and Brussels, at 241 percent.

Hamburg represented the fourth-richest area in the entire EU, at 202 percent of the average GDP. Overall in Germany, average GDP was 115 percent above the EU average. Eight of the 42 regions that beat the 125 percent mark were found in Germany, five each in the Netherlands and the UK, and four each in Italy and Austria.

Comparatively, a full quarter of the EU regions failed to make it over the 75 percent mark. The poorest were in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.

Ambulance passing a horse-drawn cart in Romania, 2005

The poorest part of the EU is in Romania

Within Germany, the wealthiest regions after Hamburg were Upper Bavaria (166 percent), Darmstadt (158 percent) and Bremen (157). But Germany's poorest region, Northeastern Brandenburg, managed only 74 percent of the EU average.

Commuters play a role

Eurostat cautioned that GDP per inhabitant figures can be strongly influenced by commuter flows, and areas with a large number of commuters did better than regions without. Net commuter inflows in areas like central London "push up production to a level that could not be achieved by the resident active population on its own," Eurostat said in a statement.

"The result is that GDP per inhabitant appears to be overestimated in these regions and underestimated in regions with commuter outflows."

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