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Germany's poor pensioners

January 21, 2018

The German population has been rapidly ageing for decades, with severe effects on the pension system. Germans are increasingly threatened by poverty in old age and are relying on part-time jobs or food donations to survive.


Herbert worked nearly his entire life, as a welder and as a sailor — but he never put much thought into his pension. Now at 65, he barely receives enough to make ends meet. He can hardly afford daily expenses, let alone hobbies or a vacation.

An increasing number of people in Germany face a similar fate to Herbert's. At 15 percent, the rate of pensioners living at poverty level has risen higher than any other segment of society. Herbert relies on food donations and collects the deposit on bottles left on the streets for extra cash. It's not easy, but he has no other choice — just like so many other pensioners, even in Germany's wealthiest regions.

Trying to Make Ends Meet: Poverty in Germany

A report by Axel Rowohlt