Wednesday, September 27, 2023
    HomePoliticsBasic child security: Education is the best insurance against poverty

    Basic child security: Education is the best insurance against poverty


    ZFirst of all, the good news: According to calculations by the OECD, almost 90 percent of all children in Germany live above the poverty line. With a child poverty rate of 11.1 percent, our country is in a better position than, for example, Great Britain with 14 or Austria with 13 percent, not to mention the USA with 21 percent, even if it does not fare as well as the Scandinavian leader in social equality Denmark and Finland with 4.9 and 3.5 percent.

    It is also important to note that other figures are in circulation in the discussions about basic child security and the demands of the family minister for twelve billion euros. It is said that every fifth child is poor or at risk of poverty. This figure is obtained by counting all the children whose families receive unemployment benefits, whether they are at risk of poverty or not – that is 15 percent – plus the seven percent who do not receive any Hartz IV benefits although they are at risk of poverty.

    At risk of poverty are – for example – children who live in a four-person household with two adults and two children under the age of 14, where the household income is less than 2174 euros. One rightly speaks of “relative” poverty. Thanks to the welfare state, almost nobody in Germany is absolutely poor. That’s the second piece of good news.

    A Bertelsmann study on child poverty from 2020 states that over 99 percent of children at risk of poverty live in an apartment with an indoor toilet, bathroom, washing machine and television and receive a hot meal every day. “The households can usually pay their rent and ancillary costs.”

    However, 49.2 percent of families who receive citizen income do not own a car, 42.8 percent can only rarely go to a restaurant, 67.6 percent cannot go on vacation every year and 64.5 percent cannot replace furniture. In half of the families, the children do not have their own room or a safe haven to do their homework, and a quarter do not have a computer with an Internet connection.

    So much for the fairy tales about welfare recipients who drive around in luxury cars and afford wide-screen TVs while the kids go hungry. There are such cases, but in poor families the parents usually do without new furniture, for example, so that their children can get new clothes and toys from time to time.

    No car, no vacation, no going to restaurants, no room of your own, no internet: some older people who remember the 1950s may wonder what the problem is. But, and this is the third piece of good news: our demands are increasing. Parents still want their children to have it better than them one day. So far, Germany has redeemed this hope, and not just materially. In 1960, the rate of those entitled to study was just 6.1 percent of school leavers, by 2020 it had risen to 46.8 percent.

    The wrong assumption of lack of intelligence

    Education is also the best insurance against poverty. Now comes the bad news: children from families at risk of poverty fail at school more often than average, so they often get poorly paid work or no work at all; the bad word from the “Hartz IV careers” has been known for generations.

    But when the publicist and former Berlin finance senator Thilo Sarrazin turns a social finding into a biological one and claims that the poor are poor because they are less intelligent, he firstly negates the experiences of our history: what did the aristocracy and the educated middle class have at the beginning of the 20th century? At the end of the 19th century, the will to education of the workers and petty bourgeoisie was mocked, not to mention the women who were allegedly incapable of higher intellectual achievements! And yet the daughters of engine drivers have become professors.

    Second, he negates the finding that poverty rates differ in different countries: if the child poverty rate in Spain is twice as high and in Slovenia only half as high as ours – it is because the Spaniards are less intelligent, the Slovenes more intelligent than the Germans? Barely.

    In our neighboring country Denmark, for example, where there is a tradition of social equality and trust in the state, which also came into play during the Corona crisis, where rigid lockdown measures were accepted, the majority of the population still supports generous measures against child poverty, also based on the consideration that children should not be held responsible for the failure or bad luck of their parents.

    In this sense, the basic child security is to be understood. Instead of having to apply for the diverse and complicated state aid as a petitioner, all parents should receive a fixed amount for each child; Higher earners then pay back the amount in whole or in part through taxes. The state pays in advance, the bureaucracy is streamlined, the child’s right to a life without material worries and thus to participation in the opportunities for advancement is recognised.

    Evidence of inadequacy for the “progress coalition”

    The dispute between Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Family Minister Lisa Paus from the Greens is helping to conceal this progress. When even the “taz”, which is more sympathetic to the Greens, shakes its head and says that Paus “cannot explain how the twelve billion are made up to this day”, one knows where the responsibility for this talking to a good cause lies. The fact that Paus reacts to cuts in her budget by excluding higher earners from parental allowance is correct in substance, but acts as a tit-for-tat, intended to harm the FDP’s suspected clientele.

    If the state has to save, it is primarily the higher earners who have to save, and if it does pay for it, then it should primarily pay for the neediest. The material improvement of the children is only the beginning. Education is and will remain crucial.

    Numerous studies show that poverty itself is a stress factor that impairs school success. Anyone who can never invite their friends over, who is ashamed of their worn clothes, who cannot rave about the holiday experiences, will often be anxious and distracted. But eliminating or reducing these stressors alone does not guarantee success; school is important.

    This country has already made a huge effort to avert a predicted “educational catastrophe,” to raise “educational reserves,” and to educate the post-war baby boomers better than the generations before it. And largely successful.

    But if today in the federal budget by far the largest item is work and social affairs, which increases by more than five billion to more than 171 billion euros, while half of the budget is used to support those who cannot make ends meet without help, while education and If research is cut back by a billion to a measly 20 billion, then something is wrong with the priorities. And the lack of a national action plan to halve the number of young people who drop out of school (currently 6 percent, making up the core population of tomorrow’s poor) is a disgrace for a government that sees itself as a progressive coalition .

    “Kick-off” is WELT’s daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts or directly by RSS feed.

    Related articles


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Stay Connected


    Latest posts