From poverty risk to family happiness

Every two years, the German Federal Statistical Office publishes its "Data Report – Social Report for Germany". The numbers shed light on the objective living conditions and the subjective well-being of the citizens. In 2011, the family remains important, but the trend here is toward patchwork. The risk of poverty is increasing.

Women's employment has increased in the past ten years. The proportion of women who predominantly finance their own living grew by four percentage points between 2000 and 2010, according to the social report presented in Berlin on Tuesday. In the old federal territory, 42 percent of women aged 15 and older, and 45 percent in the new federal states.

The data report was published by the Federal Statistical Office, the Social Science Research Center Berlin and the Federal Agency for Civic Education. It examines ies such as the distribution of material wealth or gainful employment, from which conclusions can be drawn about the quality of life and social progress. Published regularly every two years since 1985.

Overall, half of the population aged 15 and older financed most of their living expenses from their own employment in 2010, according to the report. 27 percent lived on pensions, annuities or their own assets, 15 percent were financed by relatives. Eight percent received social benefits.

The east-west difference remains..
There are still differences in attitudes toward employment between East and West, explained Roland Habich of the Social Science Research Center Berlin. This is evident, for example, when it comes to family and career. 66 percent of West Germans rated the consequences of women being gainfully employed as rather positive; in East Germany, the figure was 92 percent.

When it comes to the risk of poverty, the report paints a rather bleak picture. 16 percent of population at risk of poverty in 2008, according to survey. The cost of housing plays a special role here. In 2009, one-third of all those at risk of poverty considered themselves financially burdened. 16 percent of them could not adequately heat their homes, according to their own statements. One in three people at risk of poverty also found themselves unable to eat a full meal every other day.

For those Germans whose income is in the bottom fifth of the national average, the risk of remaining poor has also increased. In the 1980s, the risk was 57 percent; today it is 65 percent, as Habich explained.

…and education important….
The President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Thomas Kruger, called for more investment in education on the occasion of the report. The share of education spending in gross domestic product was 6.8 percent in 2009, which is too low to do justice to the economic relevance of education, he criticized.

In 2009, a quarter of the German population and 53 percent of foreigners living here had no or no vocational training qualifications. Although the number of young people with a degree from a university of applied sciences or a university of applied sciences is growing (2009: 43 percent), the number of young people with a degree from a university of applied sciences or a university of applied sciences is increasing. According to the OECD report, however, Germany is in one of the lower ranks when it comes to the quality of degrees, and in addition, despite overcrowded lecture halls, there is a lack of highly qualified workers.

…just like the family
According to the Social Report, the family continues to be very important, while marriage is less so. In 2010, 18.2 million married couples lived in Germany, around 1.3 million fewer than ten years ago. On the other hand, there were 2.6 million mixed- or same-sex partnerships, almost a quarter more than ten years ago. The number of single people increased by 18 percent to 17.4 million, and the number of single parents by 15 percent to 2.7 million.

The majority of the population (between 70 and 80 percent, depending on the age group) said that family is needed for happiness. At the same time, family actually increases life satisfaction, which is above average for people with family ties, according to the report.

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