Part of Ulrich Schneider's job description, as chief executive of the Paritätische Gesamtverband, an association of German social movements, is describing the situation of the poor in Germany as being particularly precarious and threatening. He’s been doing so with great regularity for more than 20 years. But what he described last Wednesday at the presentation of the Poverty Report 2022, titled "Between Pandemic and Inflation," in Berlin exceeded the usual warnings. Schneider spoke of "dramatic findings" and "brutal” effects, and warned: "Germany is in danger of simply disintegrating at the bottom."
Not since reunification have there been as many poor people in Germany, Schneider said, with the number of impoverished in the country hitting 13.8 million in 2021. Never before have more children and elderly had to live in poverty in the country, and the poverty rate has never risen as rapidly as it did in 2020 and 2021, he said. Even among the employed, there is a growing number of people who don’t have enough money for a life with social and cultural participation. Among the self-employed, in particular, there has never been such a marked uptick.