According to a study, more than every fifth child and every fourth young adult in Germany are at risk of poverty. The children most affected are boys and girls in single-parent families or in families with three or more adolescents, according to an analysis published by the Bertelsmann Foundation on Thursday. Child and youth poverty remain an unsolved problem. There are significant regional differences: the poverty risk rate is highest in Bremen and lowest in Bavaria, while the most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia is roughly in the middle.

According to the foundation, almost 2.9 million children and young people – this corresponds to a share of 20.8 percent – were at risk of poverty nationwide in 2021. In the group of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, 1.55 million people – a proportion of 25.5 percent – were at risk of poverty. The current crises and price increases have exacerbated the problem. Poverty means lack, renunciation, shame and worse future prospects. Children and young people in families with an income below 60 percent of the median household income in Germany are considered at risk of poverty.

Many of these young people needed government assistance to make ends meet. The basic child security announced by the federal government must come quickly. The traffic light coalition is aiming for an introduction in 2025. State benefits for children – child benefit, child supplement, benefits for children in receipt of basic income, subsidies for school and leisure activities or tax allowances for children – are to be summarized in it and paid out unbureaucratically.

The authors of the study also looked at the receipt of SGB II benefits on the basis of data from the Federal Employment Agency. In the summer of 2022, around 1.9 million young people under the age of 18 received basic security under the Social Security Code (SGB) II among the children and young people at risk of poverty – a Germany-wide rate of 13.9 percent. Among young adults up to the age of 24, there were “only” around 432,000 people – a rate of 7.1 percent. According to the foundation, however, other support such as BAföG, housing benefit or training grants are not taken into account here.

The local range in receiving SGB II was between 2.7 percent in Roth, Bavaria, and 41.7 percent in Gelsenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia for under-18s. The poverty rate in other cities in the Ruhr area, such as Essen, Dortmund, Hagen, Herne and Duisburg, was also well above average at around 30 percent among children and young people. The numbers have risen significantly for the first time in five years because minors who have fled Ukraine were added.