Bottle collector in Munich: women are more at risk than men
Photo: Ralph Peters / imago images/Ralph Peters
In Germany, more than every fifth child and every fourth young adult is at risk of poverty.
This is the result of an analysis published on Thursday by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Gütersloh.
According to this, in 2021 almost 2.9 million children and young people and another 1.55 million young people between the ages of 18 and 25 were affected.
The situation has not improved recently, but has been exacerbated by current crises and price increases.
The foundation drew a sobering conclusion and demanded countermeasures from the federal government.
"Child and youth poverty remains an unsolved problem in Germany," she explained.
The basic child security promised in the coalition agreement must be decided “as soon as possible” and with the necessary equipment.
The central benchmark must be that basic child security "effectively avoids" poverty.
According to the foundation, young people in single-parent families and in families with three or more children are particularly affected by poverty.
In these cases, the great responsibility for childcare often makes it impossible for the parents to work full-time.
Many of them are dependent on Hartz IV benefits.
As can be seen from the analysis, the number of children and young people living in Hartz IV households in Germany has recently increased for the first time in five years.
Affects many young adults
The experts attribute the increase to refugee movements due to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
Those affected and their families have been entitled to Hartz IV benefits since June last year.
According to the foundation, the number of under-18s who took advantage of corresponding government payments rose to around 1.9 million this month.
According to the Bertelsmann experts, there is also an often underestimated problem of poverty in the age group of young adults between 18 and 25 years.
In this age group, the risk of poverty is even higher than in any other age group and, according to the study, is 25.5 percent.
Consequently, every fourth young person in Germany is at risk of poverty.
According to this, women are also more at risk than men, and the risk is greater in eastern Germany than in the west.
According to the study, a look at the rate of Hartz IV recipients gives only a limited picture of the situation among young people, because many are in training or studying.
They therefore receive benefits such as Bafög or housing benefit.
The proportion of recipients of Hartz IV benefits in this age group is only seven percent.
The planned introduction of basic child security must "end the distribution with the watering can and specifically help those who are particularly dependent on it," demanded Bertelsmann education expert Anette Stein.
It must be geared to “the actual needs of young people for a good upbringing, education and participation”.
Higher child benefit, on the other hand, does nothing.
This does not come to families in relation to Hartz IV.
In the so-called basic child security planned by the traffic light coalition, financial support services are to be bundled.
These include child benefit, social assistance payments for children, the child allowance and parts of the education and participation package.
The aim is to reach more families and fight child poverty through a simpler structure and easier access.
The basic child security is to be paid out for the first time in 2025.
The foundation calls for further measures from the government to improve the situation of young people at risk of poverty.
This includes a reform of the Bafög training grant and the introduction of a training guarantee.
Both projects are “essential”.