Poverty in old age: single female pensioners are particularly affected. The most important facts about poverty in old age in Germany can be found here

Single female pensioners are particularly affected by poverty

More and more Germans over the age of 65 are considered poor or at risk of poverty. Women are particularly affected because their employment histories are interrupted more often than those of men. The most important facts about poverty in old age in Germany.

No money for a restaurant, a trip to the zoo with the grandchildren or a new pair of glasses. Sometimes there’s not even enough money at the end of the month to buy groceries at the discount store. In Germany, almost 18 percent of pensioners are considered poor or at risk of poverty (we explain how this is calculated in the info box).

Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show: Women over 65 are at greater risk of poverty (20 percent) than men of the same age (15 percent). The reason: on average, they receive only half as much money from the statutory pension scheme. Here we explain where this pension gap comes from.

Some retirees only heat one room

Retirement researcher Irene Götz from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, together with other researchers, surveyed older women with meager incomes. In a guest article for «Die Zeit,» she writes: «Our interviewees were often only able to secure their existence through rigorous savings measures: Some heated only one room in their apartment, [. ] searched all day for cheap food, cooked up kohlrabi leaves that were thrown away in the supermarket, or no longer had their toothaches treated.»

Many of the women interviewed came from middle-class backgrounds; their social decline had begun with the divorce and the increased costs in the single household. The reason: after the separation, the women who had taken care of the house and children had not been able to find a job that would provide for their old age.

«It is therefore important to educate people about the consequences that part-time work and the traditional division of roles can have,» Götz concludes.

Among couples: One in four women is financially dependent

The topic is also topical among younger couples. As the Federal Statistical Office writes in a brochure on «Older People in Germany,» traditional role patterns are changing only slowly in this country: «Even among women in couples of younger generations, around a quarter lived predominantly on the income of relatives in 2014. The figure was thus hardly different from the share of older women in couple communities.» Among couples over 65, 25 percent of women also live predominantly on the income of dependents.

Increasing old-age poverty among single women

If this support falls away, for example through divorce, the risk of poverty is high. One in five women over the age of 65 living alone has to get by on less than 900 euros a month.

For a Bertelsmann Stiftung study, the German Institute for Economic Research and the Center for European Economic Research looked into the future: By 2036, the proportion of single women, each aged 67, whose income is not enough to live on will rise sharply. In the year under study, 2016, 16.2 percent were dependent on state benefits; in 2036, according to the forecast, this figure will already be 27.8 percent.

How can poverty in old age be prevented?

The best way for women to protect themselves from poverty in old age is to take their security into their own hands as early as possible. «Women should not hope that somehow it will be enough,» warns Deka economist Dr. Gabriele Widmann in our interview. «They should develop a healthy egoism when it comes to retirement planning and regularly invest money for themselves so that they become more financially independent. After all, they don’t want to be dependent on the support of their children in old age.»

Korina Dörr, head of the Money and Household advisory service and an expert in private financial planning, advises regular saving: «You should plan the savings portion for old-age provision into your budget as early and permanently as possible. Thus one does not constantly postpone this important security and also initially small amounts can develop up to the pension beginning to a stately sum.»

Basic income support: Many needy people shy away from applying for it

You are already retired and the money is not enough? The German Pension Insurance recommends that if your monthly income is less than 838 euros, you should have a claim for «basic old-age assistance» checked. With this benefit, the state supports those who cannot support themselves. According to the German government’s Poverty and Wealth Report, the average need in 2015 was 785 euros. The amount of support granted varies because the subsistence minimum is calculated individually for each applicant and the place of residence, for example, also plays a role.

At the end of 2017, around 544,000 pensioners with the smallest pensions received basic benefits. Yet the number of people in need is much higher. However, older people in particular are reluctant to claim social benefits — out of shame or concern that their children might be asked to pay.

But this concern is unjustified: Basic benefits are granted regardless of the children’s income — unless the children earn more than 100,000 euros a year.

What does at-risk-of-poverty mean?

All those people in a country who have less than 60 percent of the median income of all households at their disposal are classified as at risk of poverty. This definition applies throughout the EU. In 2016, the threshold for the risk of poverty in Germany was around 1,064 euros. Anyone living alone on less money per month is statistically at risk of poverty. For two adults with two children under 14, the threshold was 2,234 euros.

Source — www.sparkasse.de