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In 2017, 15.8 per cent of all people in Germany were living in poverty. This is the largest percentage since the start of the time series. The poverty rate in 2005 was 14.7 per cent, and fell in 2006 to 14 per cent. In the following years it rose slightly but constantly. Only in 2010 did the rate fall minimally by 0.1 percentage points. The comparatively strong increase in the following year can only conditionally be interpreted as such, since there was a time series break in 20111. From 2011 to 2012 the rate remained basically stable, but rose again by 2014 by 0.4 percentage points. Despite the favourable economic trend, in 2015 the poverty rate was up a further 0.3 percentage points on the previous year, reaching 15.7 per cent. This rise in the poverty rate is due to the immigration of refugees causing the poverty rate of the population with a migration background to increase markedly.

And 25 years after the reunification there are differences in the poverty rates in East and West Germany. The gap between the new and the old federal states is becoming gradually smaller, though, primarily due to rising income poverty in West Germany, as well as to the clearly decreasing poverty rate in East Germany in the last few years. Whereas the difference in 2005 was still 7.2 percentage points in 2015 it was just 5.0 percentage points. Between 2015 and 2016 there was a comparatatively big alignment about 1.4 percentage point, in result the gap between East and West Germany in 2016 was 3.6 percentage points. The trend of alignment has proceeded. In 2017 the difference between East and West was only about 2.5 percentage points. This equates to an alignment by 4.7 percentage points within the last twelve years.

1Until 2011 the data were based on the census in 1987. Since then the census 2011 has been used for the calculations. Therefore, data before and after 2011 are not fully comparable.

Further explanations

Poverty rate: the poverty rate is the proportion of people in the total population whose income is below the 60 per cent poverty line.


Amtliche Sozialberichterstattung des Bundes und der Länder (Official System Of Social Reporting)



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