Child poverty in Germany: Not only is money missing
Germany is considered a rich country. The economy is doing well, unemployment is at a record low. But those who have little to do with it suffer the most: many children in this country are affected by poverty. How can that be? What are the effects of childhood poverty? And how can child poverty be combated in Germany? Here you’ll find answers.
That’s what it’s all about:
So many children in Germany suffer from poverty
Do you think poverty is only an issue in developing countries? In Germany alone, every fifth child is affected by poverty. This is a total of 2.55 million children, as the child poverty report of the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) shows. According to a study commissioned by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, on average every fourth child in Germany lives in so-called relative poverty.
What does relative poverty mean??
Child poverty in Germany is also called relative poverty because poor people in this country still have more money at their disposal than poor people in developing countries.
At the border to poverty there is someone who has less than 60 percent of the median net income at their disposal. Poor are those who only get 40 to 50 percent of median net income. Anyone earning 781 euros or less per month as a single person is therefore considered to be at risk of poverty or poor. The value for couples is 1,171 euros and below. And for a family of four, the poverty line is 1,926 euros net per month. In eastern Germany and Bremen, proportionately more children live in relative poverty than, for example, in Bavaria or in western Germany.
What are the causes of child poverty??
Children are dependent on their parents. If they earn little money or are dependent on social assistance, there is not much left for the children. Even the child benefit that every family is entitled to is offset against Hartz IV rates, for example.
The most common reason for child poverty in Germany is parent unemployment. Single parents often don’t have enough money either. Because they cannot find sufficient childcare options, they can only work part-time and quickly end up below the poverty line. In addition, child poverty occurs frequently in families with three or more children, especially if only one parent is employed. Other causes of child poverty: Parents with a migration background and parents with a low level of education have difficulties in the labor market and earn little money or receive unemployment benefits.
What does child poverty look like in Germany??
Child poverty in Germany is not synonymous with homelessness or lack of food. Families affected by poverty in Germany have a secure existence, but often only live with the bare essentials. A warm meal every day is not a matter of course for poor children in Germany. The children have to do without many things that are taken for granted by other peers. Poverty is therefore not only a material problem, but also a social one.
When school trips or visits to the theater are scheduled, some children have to stay at home because the parents cannot afford the money. They don’t go to school like others with new books, pens and satchels. Children from poor families often have to do without tutoring.
Poor children find it harder to find a connection. Invite friends home? Unthinkable! The apartment is so small that they do not have their own room and the money for food and drinks is already scarce anyway. When they are invited to children’s birthdays, they cannot bring expensive gifts like their classmates. Poor children do not have their own smartphones and cannot wear trendy branded clothes. Some freeze in winter because parents cannot buy warm clothes. Pocket money is not a matter of course for them and there is no money for the swimming pool or the cinema either. Sport in a club costs money, just like music lessons. In many cases, parents don’t have a car and can’t even drive their children to training.
What are the consequences of child poverty??
Those who experience poverty in their childhood often suffer from it throughout their lives.
- lack of education : Many children need help with homework. But either the parents don’t speak German well enough or they don’t care enough about their own children’s education. Without a good school leaving certificate, the children find it difficult to learn a profession with which they can later earn money themselves.
- Mental and social disorders : Children are ashamed of the poor living conditions, withdraw, lose hope for the future and demands on themselves.
- developmental disorders : Parents rarely spend the available money on healthy food. The health of children suffers in the long term due to the lack of a balanced diet, medical care and sufficient exercise.
How can child poverty be combated??
Various studies have shown that children from poor families often remain poor throughout their lives. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe to combat child poverty. Politics must take care of this first.
Many factors need to improve so that children are no longer affected by poverty. Some examples:
- Financial support that families can get from the state is very time-consuming and complicated to apply for. For example, if all benefits were combined to provide basic child protection, many bureaucratic hurdles for parents would be eliminated.
- Culture and leisure cost money. If children were given free access to the theater and swimming pool, they could keep up with society.
- Fair wages are not always paid. Despite a full-time job, some parents are unable to provide optimal care for their family.
- Kita only until noon, school closes at one? If there are more affordable childcare options, parents can better organize family life. Children benefit from the professional support that they receive, for example, in pre-school or all-day school.
A range of all-day daycare centers would help both parents and children.
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