Old Age Blues

Pensioners in Poverty

Counting pennies in old age. Source: dpa
Counting pennies in old age.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s renowned social security system is meant to give all citizens a cradle-to-grave safety net. But an aging population and shrinking workforce is leaving many facing a poverty-stricken old age.

  • Facts


    • The German pension program is 125 years old.
    • In 1985 the  average pension in West Germany was around 57 percent of the net income.
    • By 2030 it will fall to 43 percent of net income.
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On Tuesday, Germany celebrated the 125th anniversary of its pension system. Angela Merkel, the 60 year-old chancellor, lauded the country’s old age provisions. “The pension remains at the heart of our social system,” she said.

But even while the country celebrated its social security system that was designed to reward workers for a lifetime of hard slog with a comfortable and secure old age, the bell was tolling.

After her words of praise, Ms. Merkel also warned that the country’s state pension, in its current form, would not be enough for people to live on. She warned that the system needed a complete overhaul.

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