How the German welfare system discriminates children

So this blog is usually about electronics, but as I’m in between two jobs right now money is short and I felt this subject needs some attention. I’m not starving, luckily I put some money on my savings account during the last few years and can still pay my bills. My current net income is below the minimum amount that German authorities are willing to give to jobless people after a certain while (+ rent + utilities …). But as I’m still writing on my PhD thesis, getting a normal job is out of the question as there would be not enough time left.

Right now adults get 347€ per month. This is for food, electricity, heating,  clothing, public transport, phone line and so on. A single bus ticket in my town costs 2€. For some reason kids are expected to do with a lot less. Kids up to 14 years are granted a generous 2.57€ for food per day, bigger kids of 14-18 years get a whopping 3.42€ per day. This is supposed to support a healthy and well balanced diet !

Here comes my test.  I went shopping at a local discounter. Not the cheapest around as I don’t want to eat rubbish, but I avoided known brands and switched to cheaper products if available. I got some veggies, tuna, cheese and meaty stuff. Total cost 12.09€, total calories 3384. As an adult one can live with about 2000kcal a day if you’re not doing any sports. Large kids growing up may need some more.


So… as a grown up I got food worth of 1.69 days, but I had to pay 3.53 times the daily allowance for it. In terms of calories I spent 7.15€ per day, about 2 times the sum I should have spent for a 14 year old kid and 3 times the allowance for a not so big kid. Sure I could have done without the soy milk and the meat and tuna, but a big loaf of bread also costs several euros nowadays. The only chance of staying below the current limit would be to only buy rice and tons of potatoes.

Just think of it, if you buy a bus ticket for 2€ for e.g. getting into town to visit some person at the local authorities, you’ve already spent 50% of the money you have for food per day! Or buy a pair of new shoes for your kid (happens once in a while), and it’s potatoes and water for the rest of the month. Not to mention that cheap shoes don’t last very long. Or how about buying a book ? I recently purchased “The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents” by Terry Pratchett for 8€ at a local book store. A good price for ordinary people, but for small kids on welfare it’s 3 days no food. This is just sick.

There’s a movement in Germany that schools should be transformed into some sort of day care for kids, that is they should get meals and tutors for homework and so on. This costs money as well and parents have to contribute their share, that’s ok. But remember the 2.57€ per day? Quite recently there was a TV documentary about a family unfortunate enough to depend on this kind of welfare. Their little daughter went to kindergarten and her parents couldn’t afford the extra money for this lunch anymore. Just a few cents per day (I think it was 20€ a month). Now every other kid gets a warm meal, except this girl. You should have seen here expression. It’s like being punished every single day of your life and don’t understand why.

Oh, did I mention that you’ve got to pay 10€ up front when visiting a doctor ? Ok, it’s just once every quarter of a year and it is waived if you get a transfer paper from some other doctor. Still 3 days worth of food. There’s also some allowance that’s supposed to keep people in touch with the world, media, music, newspaper and so on. I think it is about 70 cents. Per month!

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3 Responses to How the German welfare system discriminates children

  1. Mathias says:

    Hi Robert,

    it’s a shame and I really do hope to never have to ask to get Hartz IV. Still most people will think that this is enough money to live from until they themselves have to live with so little money.


  2. robert says:

    It sucks.

    We need jobs with fair payment. I don’t see why some people work 40 hours a week and get money shoved up their bottoms until it comes out of their ears, and others do as much and don’t get enough salary for paying their rent. I’m not saying that some people shouldn’t earn more than others, but I seriously doubt that a bank manager is worth the salary of 200 or more ‘simple’ workers. A little bit of fair communism would do us good.

  3. Mathias says:

    Hi Robert,

    the worst thing is that you now face demotivated persons almost everywhere because of the fact that they cant make a living with their normal jobs. I know quite a few that do have a second job in the evenings or over the weekend in order to have enough money. Those are working for well known companies that should have an interest in employing well educated and highly motivated jobholders.

    Also I do wonder how some can survive with less than or slightly more than € 1,000 per month.

    I don’t know anything about your musical taste but if you like soul, swing, r&b music and can imagine that left-winged Skinheads are able to perform that in a more than brilliant way then you should try to get hold of “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” from the Redskins. Unfortunately it was their only album relase but this is very powerful music with intelligent lyrics!

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