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Every third child remains in poverty in adulthood

November 6, 2019

A study spanning 20 years has found that poverty can haunt the lives of impoverished children in Germany. But with the right support structures and resources, many of them can escape poverty in adulthood.

Silhouette of a child
Image: picture-alliance/ZB/B. Wüstneck

Two out of three children in low-income families in Germany escape poverty as an adult, according to a 20-year study published on Wednesday.

But only 50% of those children were able to do so after they left their parents' residence, said the study, which was conducted by the Frankfurt Institute for Social Work and Pedagogy for German charity Arbeiterwohlfahrt.

Read more: Can a wealth tax bridge Germany's divide between rich and poor? 

'Breaking out of poverty'

The study found that education played a crucial role in elevating students out of poverty as did access to assistance outside the nuclear family.

"Child poverty does not automatically translate into poverty as a young adult," the organization said. "Support structures and resources within and outside the family, especially those provided throughout the course of a child's life, are crucial for breaking out of poverty."

On the other side of the spectrum, the study found that children who were not exposed to economic hardship would rarely go on to experience poverty in their adult lives.

Read more: Dramatic rise in Germans relying on food banks

Land of Inequality - Power

Recognizing the problem

The organization initially surveyed around 900 six-year-old children attending their own daycares in 1999. Last year, it surveyed just over 200 of those children again and found that one out of every three of them still lived in poverty.

Over the past decade, greater attention has been given to economic disparities in Germany. Several studies published earlier this year showed an increase in homeless and poverty across the country, especially among vulnerable communities such as the elderly.

Read more: Income inequality in Germany on the rise: study

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Germany's poor pensioners

ls/aw (dpa, epd)

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