According to the data, the federal-state of Bremen has the highest poverty rate of more than 28%

Study on the effect of COVID-19 and poverty in Germany finds stark north-south divide

Study on the effect of COVID-19 and poverty in Germany finds stark north-south divide

According to the study, the pandemic disproportionately affected the economically and socially vulnerable

A recent study by the German Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband (German Parity Welfare Association) on poverty rates in the first year of the pandemic (2020) found out that 16.1% of Germans are living in poverty. This roughly equals 13.4 million people.

According to the study, single parents and households with three or more children were among the hardest hit. Furthermore, according to the Managing Director of the Parity Welfare Association, Ulrich Schneider, there are clear winners and losers from the pandemic in terms of location and occupation.

The German Parity Welfare Association is the leading non-governmental organisation responsible for coordinating charity efforts at helping the poor. They started back in 1925 as an advocacy group for ‘parity’ – the concept of social equality in Germany and they have advocated for the rights of the vulnerable ever since.

The vulnerable became more vulnerable

The 16.1% poverty rate is a sad new record for Germany and is a clear continuation of a trend that started back in 2006 when the poverty rate was at 14%. The poverty line is set per household and it equals 60% of the median household income. This number includes housing benefits, child benefits, child allowances, other transfer payments or other benefits.

According to the study, 80% of the population was not affected by Covid-related income losses and this is why there is not a big upset in the overall statistics. However, the bottom 20% were affected and they came out poorer at the end of 2020.

The poverty rate has grown by 0.2% compared to 2020, yet that growth is not across the board. In 2019 8% of the employed and 9% of the self-employed were considered poor. In 2020, that number went up to 8.7 for the employed and 13% for the self-employed.

When it comes to demographics, vulnerable households felt the most pressure. The poverty rates in households with three or more children were at 30.9% and single parents - 40.5%. The study reported similar data on the poverty rates for the unemployed (52%), those with low educational qualifications (20.9%) and people with a migrant background (27.9%).

A tale of two countries

When it comes to geography, there is a clear divide between Germany’s South with the federal-states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and the rest of the country.  These two states have an average poverty rate of 12.2%, while the rest of Germany has an average rate of 17.7%.

The numbers paint a contrasting picture. Bavaria has the lowest poverty rate of just 11% while Bremen has the highest at 28%. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt also stand out with extremely high poverty rates of around 20%.

Ulrich Schneider was quoted in a press release, saying: “Germany is not only socially but also regionally a deeply divided country and the rifts are getting deeper and deeper. If every tenth inhabitant in one federal state and more than every fourth inhabitant in the other must be counted poor, we cannot talk about equal living conditions all of Germany.”



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU