Old-age poverty is and remains the exception

Fortunately, poverty in old age is rare in Germany. Only around 3 % of all people over 64 are dependent on basic old-age benefits. Unnecessary concerns and fears in the population about rampant and spreading old-age poverty should therefore be countered with facts and, above all, with a policy that addresses the causes of existing old-age poverty. The debate on poverty in old age should be objectified.

Older people are significantly less likely to be dependent on basic social security benefits than younger people.
While around 9 % of the population as a whole are dependent on basic social security benefits, only around 3 % of older people (from the standard age limit) are (source: ).
The majority of today's generation of pensioners is well provided for. According to the old-age security report, for example, the average monthly net income of people aged 65 and over in 2019 was €2,907 for married couples, €1,816 for single men and €1,607 for single women.
Misconception: low pensions equal old-age poverty:
The amount of the statutory pension alone does not indicate poverty in old age. As the Federal Government's Old-Age Security Report shows, there is sometimes even an inverse relationship between the amount of pensions paid out under the statutory pension insurance scheme and the actual household income of older people. This is partly due to the fact that many pensioners have only paid into the statutory pension insurance for a few years and therefore receive small pensions, but have acquired high pension entitlements, e.g. as self-employed persons, civil servants or persons exempt from compulsory pension insurance.

Those who are at least 65 years old and actually do not have sufficient means of subsistence are entitled to basic old-age assistance. This social benefit, which is intended to solve the problem of "disguised old-age poverty", is granted in full even if the persons concerned could claim their dependent children.

For the future, too, there is much to suggest that old-age poverty will remain largely the exception - despite the declining benefit level of the statutory pension insurance:
  • According to the German government's , pensions will increase by an average of 2.4% per year until 2032, based on the expected economic development. This means that they will probably not only rise in nominal terms, but will also continue to increase in purchasing power.
  • Private and occupational pension provision has grown strongly in recent decades. In the past 15 years, the number of employees with a claim to occupational pension provision has increased significantly. According to the old-age security report, in 2019 more than 66% of employees subject to social insurance contributions aged 25 to under 65 had a claim to a supplementary pension from occupational pension provision or from a Riester pension. This does not even include unsubsidised forms of old-age provision.
  • Among the over-65s, the home ownership rate is now around 60 %. Those who live in their own property save on rent and thus increase their disposable income in old age.
Several scientific studies confirm the expectation that older people will continue to be rarely affected by poverty. The most comprehensive study to date on this issue has shown that the basic security rate for older people could rise to 7% by 2036 (source: ). This means that significantly fewer older people would still be dependent on basic benefits in the future than is the case today for those under 65. At the same time, the study also gives an - unsurprising - indication of how old-age poverty can best be prevented, namely by stepping up efforts towards qualification and labour market integration. Thus, the summary of the study states: "Over the entire period, the risk is particularly high for people with low education, single women and people who have been affected by long-term unemployment or who have a migration background. People with long employment histories have a very low risk of poverty in all periods."
Long-standing employees will therefore have to worry particularly little about the risk of old-age poverty in the future. With around 45 million people in employment, more people are currently employed in Germany than ever before. This increase in employment puts even more people than before in a position to make provision for old age through statutory as well as occupational and private pension schemes.