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Old-age poverty in Germany

Does Germany have an old-age poverty problem?

A comment to an interview of a 74 year old pensioner who lives in poverty

From a German student who passes an exchange semester at NOVA

Poverty is much more than a current topic in Germany as most of the people could imagine. This blog entry is dealing with an interview of a 74 year old German pensioner who has worked full-time for over forty years in her life and lives in poverty now. Furthermore, I’ll show information about the German pension system and explain the reasons why this woman isn’t an individual case.

The person:

Ms. Apel gets 637€ of pension to complete her daily life each month. With this amount of money she isn’t able to buy new clothes or even to buy fresh food every day. She goes to second hand shops where the clothes cost less than one euro or takes the help from food banks to be alive. This situation doesn’t allow her the choice to go to the doctor or to do something special – even to visit her children in Germany who live in other cities.

Old – age poverty in Germany:

Many German who worked for their whole life and paid their contributions for their pension are living in poverty now. They are alive, but this life doesn’t allow them to have a happy pension time. The circumstances of counting the own money every day, to look for the prices in every situation and of having an uncertain future don’t allow them to be a part of the normal society. This people even avoid places and also the contact to people who have a normal, average income.

The German pension system:

To give a short and better understanding, the German pension system works like this: The employees pay a monthly percentage of their income during their working time, for the people who are actually pensioners. They have to pay and have no other choice because it’s required by law. Finally, the employees have a right to get a pension if they become pensioners and they will get the money from the employees who are working then.

Demographic change:

The German population looks like this chart:


Most of the people belong to the age group between 40 and 64 and they’ll get their pension at the age of 67 normally. We can imagine that Germany will have most of the problems after 2030, when these people get their pension and “my generation”, who counts less than then, has to pay for them every month. Our pension system will have insufficient money for all pensioners at least to enable them to have a carefree life, like Ms. Apel. For example, if this people have a gross income of 2500 euro each month and have worked for more than 35 years, they’ll get less than 700 euro pension each month. Most of them will live in a bigger poverty than Germany can imagine right now.


Germany’s outdated pension system needs a big change to avoid the old-age poverty which will come as fast as we can think about. We also need more volunteers who care about poverty than our government does, which is still closing its eyes about this important topic. Furthermore, every person in Germany is responsible for their own pension too. A private money plan could be one solution for each person in the future while they are working. But people like Ms. Apel need help from the government right now, maybe in the form of material objects like clothes or food if it can’t give money for them.

If we take a look at the GDP per Capita in Germany, this country belongs to these whom are above the GDP per Capita Europe average. We associate countries in east Europe like Bulgaria as poor normally. But as we can see through this interview: The importance of poverty reached even in Germany – and will be one of the main problems to fight against in the future!


written by Immanuel Block


The article: (09/13/2012)


Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

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