Poverty gap between natives and immigrants widens in Germany: study

Poverty gap between German natives and citizens of migratory backgrounds further widened in the past year, a study published on Thursday shows.

According to the study, poverty among German natives has fallen from 12.5 percent in 2015 to 12.1 percent in 2016, while the number of German residents with migratory backgrounds in poverty rose by 0.4 percent to 28.1 percent.

In Germany, individuals are defined as having a migratory background if they are immigrants themselves, or the child of at least one immigrant.

The survey was conducted by the Institute of Economic and Social Sciences (WSI) for the left-leaning Hans-Boeckler Foundation.

The study authors identified the mass arrival of refugees in Germany since 2015 as the main driver behind the widening gap between natives and immigrants. Eight out of 10 Syrians and seven out of 10 Iraqis are living in poverty in Germany.

In total, the national poverty rates for German residents was nearly unchanged at 15.8 percent, only 0.1 percentage point higher than in 2015. Nonetheless, the WSI was concerned that “immigrants and their children still face a high risk of poverty.”

The WSI defines households as poor or at risk of poverty if their income amounts to less than 60 percent of the so-called “needs-oriented” mean German net income. For a family of four, with two adults and two children below the age of 14, the monthly threshold is currently 1,978 euros.

Due to the arrival of refugees, German child poverty had already risen sharply in 2015 from 19 percent to 19.7 percent. This trend continued into 2015 to reach a total of 20.3 percent or 2.7 million children.

Poverty among underage immigrants rose from 48.6 percent to 54.2 percent. In contrast, children without migratory backgrounds saw a reduction in the poverty rate by 0.2 percent to 13.3 percent.

The WSI expressed optimism that the trend towards higher child poverty would not endure. The rising rate for 2016 despite falling immigration was mainly a statistical effect that resulted from a failure of 2015’s survey to capture the effect of refugee arrivals.

The researchers warned however that elderly people were another demographic where poverty was growing at a rapid pace and was likely to continue doing so. Among the group above the age of 65, 14.8 percent lived below the poverty threshold.

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