New research has illustrated the increasing poverty in larger German cities, particularly those in the Ruhr region in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populated state.
The research, announced in the Ruhr city of Gütersloh, showed the share of welfare recipients in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants increased to 14 percent – four percent above the national average.
The research, conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation and reported in the Rheinische Post on Tuesday, showed the city residents were noticing the increases in poverty more so than the population at large.
In total, 46 percent of city respondents said they had witnessed an increase in poverty, whereas only one-third of nationwide respondents felt the same.
Ruhr poverty on the rise
Gütersloh – one of many mid-size cities in Germanys industrial heartland – was chosen as the site of the research release to highlight the rising poverty in the region.
Poverty has increased in 13 communities in the Ruhr region with more than 100,000 inhabitants. The Ruhr area – known in German as the Ruhrgebiet – is home to more than 5 million people and is the third largest urban area in the European Union.
The industrial area was one of Germanys richest throughout the 20th century on the back of a thriving coal mining industry. As the coal mines have closed however, wages have stagnated and poverty has trended upwards in the region.
Poverty is on the rise in several German cities. Image: DPA
Opposite trends eastwards
Conversely, poverty has decreased in cities in the former east. Despite the comparative economic disadvantage remaining since reunification, each of the ten communities in the former east that classify for city status has seen a diminution in poverty in the study.
German taxpayers foot a 5.5 percent solidarity tax which is aimed at bridging the economic gap between the west and the former communist east.
The money is channeled into economic support for the states that make up the former east, although there have been repeated calls in recent years to abolish the tax.
Taxpayers demonstrating on anniversary of fall of Berlin wall/#Mauerfall against economic subsidy tax for formerly communist east. They want the new government to kill the so-called #Soli. pic.twitter.com/2dE4lWmCTw
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