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Poverty in Old Age in Germany – Empiric Assessment and Socio-Political Perspectives

Stand: 01.01.2008kostenlos

Author: PD Dr. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn/Location: Frankfurt/Main

Between the seventies and the beginning of the nineties, old age poverty was on the decrease. Since then, the poverty rate in the upper age groups continued more or less con-stant, although the general poverty rate increased. Therefore, the ratio of the elderly persons to the “poverty population” decreased significantly. Nevertheless, a reform of the need-orientated basic income support for elderly persons and for persons suffering from a reduction in earning capacity (“bedarsorientierte Grundsicherung im Alter und bei Erwerbsminderung”) is still necessary. However, the empiric results regarding the poverly rate of elderly persons are due to the database that is used for the research and to the method of poverty measurement. Therefore, it remains unclear, whether the poverty rate among elderly persons is higher or lower than average. In addition, we have to assume the risk of an in-creasing poverty rate, incase counter measures are not taken. At least, the uncertainty about an adequate old age security increases. This fact by itself gives reasons for a reform of the law regarding the need-orientated basic income support for elderly persons. The income support should guarantee an independent protection against poverty. Furthermore, it should not be means-tested to prevent hidden poverty in old age. Concurrently, additional measures (such as the extension of obligatory insurance to other groups of gainfully employed persons, e. g. to self-employed (“Erwerbstätigen-versicherung”)) should allow for (rather) uninterrupted insurance membership to guarantee the accumulation of adequate pension entitlements. The article outlines proposals for socio-political reforms fulfilling those requirements. The author states that a comprehensive reform following the new Swedish old age security could be appropriate for Germany as well.

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