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Poverty among the elderly in Germany skyrockets

September 10, 2016

The number of older Germans living on meager means has increased 25 percent in ten years, a report says. The opposition Left party says the government isn't doing enough for some of the nation's most vulnerable people.

Deutschland Symbolbild Hartz IV Armut Altersarmut
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Hildenbrand

German media reported on Saturday that some 5.6 million residents over 55 were living in poverty or affected by social marginalization. This is a stark increase - nearly 25 percent - from a decade ago, when the number stood at 4.5 million.

The newspaper "Passauer Neue Presse" published the numbers, collected by the EU statistics agency Eurostat. In the statistics, people are considered as living in poverty or being "socially marginalized" if they earn under 60 percent of the average income in their respective country.

Infografik Risiko Altersarmut - ein Vergleich Englisch

At 20.7 percent, the rate of poverty among the elderly in Germany is just under the EU average of 20.9 percent. But it is far above that in neighboring Netherlands, which has just 11.9 percent of its elderly population in dire financial straits.

"Poverty is spreading all over Germany," said Sabine Zimmerman, a member of parliament with the opposition Left party who analyzed the statistics. "Fighting poverty requires an all-encompassing plan that the current government doesn't appear to be concerned about."

She called for a federal minimum wage of 12 euros ($13.50) and more support for older citizens who are unemployed.

es/tj (AFP, KNA)