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Germany: One in five older women faces poverty

April 24, 2024

Doing the unpaid work of caring for family members often leaves older women financially worse off than older men. In 2023, the average pension income for women 65 and over in Germany was 27% lower than that of men.

Two pensioners sit on a bench in a park.
According to the averages, one of these pensioners has 27.1% less income to live onImage: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa ZB/picture alliance

The so-called "gender pension gap," the difference in retirement income between men and women, is 27.1% in Germany, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Wednesday.

About every fifth woman (20.8%) aged 65 or older was at risk of poverty last year. The risk level for men in the same age group was 15.9%.

The Gender Pay Gap

This income includes all kinds of pensions, from old-age and survivors' benefits to individual private provisions.

Why do German women have smaller pensions than men?

A person is considered to be at risk of poverty if their income is less than 60% of the median income of the entire population, considering the size and composition of the household.

Due to the lower income, women are remarkably more likely to be at risk of poverty in old age than men. In 2023, women over 65 in Germany earned an average of €18,663  annually, while men of the same age earned €25,599, both figures are for income before any deductions.

Part-time work, lower-paying jobs and more frequent leaves, such as caring for children and elderly relatives,  all contribute to lower income for women during their careers, which later means lower pensions for women.

Excluding interdependent pensions, such as pension payments made most often when a spouse dies, the gender pension gap could grow to 39.4%, with 29% of surveyed women receiving payments from deceased partners' pension, the Federal StatisticalOffice said.

How a German firm is attempting to bridge gender pay gap

ac/sms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)