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Rational demagoguery

A country’s poverty threshold is clearly described internationally: those who receive less than 60 percent of the median income are at risk of poverty. The Federal Statistical Office (destatis) calculated this threshold for Germany in 2018 at 1,035 euros net. The Bertelsmann study, based on calculations by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), comes to other conclusions: it reduces the poverty threshold for people over 65 by 130 euros to 905 euros.

How it does this is not explicitly explained in the study. However, it is clear from a table on page 87, which shows the “average income of the older population”, from which the 60% poverty threshold is then calculated.

This is a nasty manipulation, because the explanatory text suggests that the survey method follows international rules. EU-SILC, EU statistics on income and living conditions, the EU survey on income and living conditions, is rightly always based on the incomes of the entire population.

But it does not do that at all. If the manipulators were to pursue the game of separate consideration of populations consistently, they would also have to calculate the retirement income of civil servants, politicians and freelancers. After all, the whole study deals with pensioners in statutory pension insurance. The result would then probably be an old-age poverty threshold of around 850 euros. That would then be a poverty threshold, which for a great many pensioners would still be below the basic security (social assistance).

The German Pension Insurance currently recommends that, in the case of a pension of less than EUR 865, it should be checked whether there is a right to basic insurance. This is where a further redefinition of the Bertelsmann publication comes in: a basic security threshold of 777 euros is set up.

One should know: The basic fuse consists of two components.

  1. The standard rate for providing ongoing living — currently EUR 424 per month for individuals — which is the same for all.
  2. Housing costs, consisting of cold rent and heating/hot water costs. They are assessed differently from region to region. The maximum rate is based on the local rent ceiling plus heating/hot water costs. According to this, for example, the basic security in the district of Rendsburg/Eckernförde can be 840 euros, in Berlin 920 euros.

The newly established basic security threshold can therefore only be relevant for an area of Germany where the cold rent is well below 300 euros. However, there are very few of them.

Media failures from the “Welt” to the “Neuen Deutschland”

The Bertelsmann Foundation has launched a study that is clearly intended to shift poverty standards. Last night, an NDR-Info broadcast on old-age poverty was already moderated with “it’s about people who have less than 905 euros a month to live on”…

These study results have also been adopted uncritically by almost all media. It is not questioned, apparently not even registered, that destatis on poverty and thus also on old-age poverty publishes completely different figures than the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Old-age poverty can rise from 16.8 percent today to 21.6 percent by 2039, the study reveals. This is alarming, but at the same time trivialising it by the scale shifts.

The reform concepts examined in the study are, in part, completely unsuitable for combating old-age poverty. There is no mention of the introduction of a minimum pension. Against the falling pension level, propaganda for private pensions is once again being used, as stated on page 10:

In order to compensate for the falling pension level, private pension provision should be given greater importance for income protection in old age. If the target of supplementary pension provision is assumed to be the spread of the GRV, this has not yet been done to the required extent.

It is to be feared that “experts” who represent such positions and demands are among the scientific advisers of the Pensions Commission. Whether this is true remains hidden behind the absolute secrecy of the Commission’s work.