May 24, 2013 | 11:15 AM (BD Time)
24 May, 2013 Friday
German economic miracle leaves the poorest behind
. AFP, Berlin
The economic "miracle" that has enabled Germany to escape the worst of Europe's debt crisis is largely passing by some of the most vulnerable people in society, critics say.
And as Germany finally begins to feel the pinch from a crisis that has pushed most of its neighbours into recession, it is the low-wage workers and the old-age pensioners who are being hit hardest, the critics charge.
According to a new four-yearly poverty report drawn up by the labour ministry, the gap between rich and poor in Europe's top economy is continuing to widen.
In 1998, 45 percent of Germany's total wealth was owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population.
Ten years later, that proportion had risen to 53 percent, while around half of all households owned just 1.0 percent, the study found.
"Hourly wages that are no longer sufficient-even if someone is working full time-to feed a one-person household are exacerbating the poverty risks and undermining social cohesion," the labour ministry warned.
Unions argue that those very same labour market reforms which have helped steel Germany against the worst of the debt crisis and brought down unemployment to post-unification lows are contributing to the ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
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