2.8 million children in Germany grow up in poverty

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2.8 million children in Germany grow up in poverty


Gutersloh. The Corona crisis threatens to exacerbate the problems of child poverty. Every fifth child is affected. This is shown by a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation. Its board criticizes: “Politicians are doing too little to save children from poverty”



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Regionally, the study found that there are significant differences in the numbers of child poverty. The situation has improved in eastern Germany.

According to an analysis, child poverty remains an “unprocessed large construction site”. Around 2.8 million children and adolescents in Germany grow up in poverty – that’s 21.3 percent of all under-18s, reports the Bertelsmann Foundation in a new study. She calls the fight against child poverty one of the greatest social challenges in Germany. Since 2014 there have been few improvements on a nationwide average.

The corona crisis now threatens to exacerbate the problems of child poverty. Parents of disadvantaged children and adolescents often work part-time or as mini-jobbers and are particularly affected in the pandemic by job losses or loss of income, the analysis says. Because of the corona effects, there is a risk that many poor children “fall through the grid”, warned the board of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Jörg Dräger.

This is also due to the fact that many non-domestic support offers were at least temporarily discontinued during the lockdown. Homeschooling during the lockdown would have exacerbated the problem. Children from poor backgrounds often did not have the necessary technical equipment and had no retreat for undisturbed learning, the study says. Almost every fourth child in households receiving basic security would not have access to an Internet-enabled computer.

About two-thirds of the 2.8 million children and adolescents affected also have little chance of improving their situation, at least for five years. Households of single parents and those with three or more children are particularly affected.

According to the study, there are large regional differences. In eastern Germany, the proportion of children receiving basic security fell from 22.1 percent in 2014 to 16.9 percent in 2019. In western Germany, the rate stagnated at around 13 percent – despite the good economic development until the Corona crisis. In some municipalities in Germany up to 40 percent of children depend on basic security, in others only two percent.

“Child poverty remains an unsolved structural problem with significant consequences for growing up, well-being, education and future opportunities for children,” said the experts. Dräger criticized the politicians and urged action: “Politicians do too little to save children from poverty,” said the board of the foundation. “Avoiding child poverty must become a political priority, especially in the Corona crisis.” Dräger spoke in favor of new social and family policy concepts such as a participation fee or basic child protection.

The study is based on a combined poverty measurement: it takes into account children from families whose income is less than 60 percent of the average of all households. This also includes adolescents in basic security benefits whose families receive Hartz IV. The unresolved problem of child poverty has significant consequences for growing up, well-being, education and future opportunities, emphasized the foundation in Gütersloh.

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