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a blog from young economists at Nova SBE

Child poverty in Germany, chances to escape and the Government’s approach to face it

Melanie Rathmann (Student number 1129)

The Federal Statistical Office stated that 15% of the German population is threatened by poverty (2012)[1] and over 2.5 Million children live in income poverty.[2] The used poverty line is set at 60% of the national median equivalized household income per capita.

Children from parents who are considered as poor have relatively low chances from escaping poverty since they have less money, less books and other materials for education. And many of those children have less time to learn because they have to work besides school to get some pocket money or they have to take over the duties of their parents. That is why people keep saying: “Once you are poor, you’ll stay poor.”

A long term study (over 15 years) examined the chances of children, who grew up in poor families, to escape from poverty and the determinants of poverty exits or entries. The result is that they are able to exit poverty if parents, kindergartens and schools work together very closely. In the study 43% of the respondents were able to escape from poverty but in the long run 20% of them fell back into poverty. The reason in most cases was that the continuous support was missing. Another result was that the origin of the parents was even less important for the chances of a child than the social background. To judge people with a migrant background as a problematic social group is just a prejudice.

According to the study children have to take part in the social life, they need enough time to learn for school and they need support from their parents, the kindergarten and the school throughout the whole educational process to achieve sustainable successes.

The support from the kindergarten used to start when the children were 3 years old. But nowadays parents want to get back to work as soon as possible and therefore the German politicians decided to enlarge the childcare facilities so that kindergartens will also be able to take care of small children from 1 to 3 years old. The plan was to have sufficient places in child care by August 2013.

But due to the fact that the development is going too slow there will be not enough places for small children in kindergartens next year. The problem the politicians are facing is that everybody will be entitled to receive a child care place next summer. Their solution to this dilemma is care benefits. Parents will be able to raise their children at home and get rewarded for it by receiving 150€ per month.[3] This law will come into force in August 2013. This is the opposite of the study’s advice because it keeps children away from social life and thereby the chance of getting support of the kindergarten cannot be taken.

Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

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