Millions of people in Germany are overburdened by housing costs

TYour rents and high house prices make it difficult for many people in Germany. In 2019, around 11.4 million people lived in households that were financially overburdened by high housing costs, the Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday. That is almost 14 percent of the population. The authority sees an overload of housing costs when a household spends more than 40 percent of the available income on housing – regardless of whether the person concerned is renting or living in their own four walls and paying off a loan, for example.

On average, the population in Germany spent around 26 percent of their disposable household income on rent and ancillary costs or the maintenance of their home ownership last year, according to the Wiesbaden statisticians. In 2014, however, the share of housing costs in disposable household income was higher at 27 percent.

The overload rate has also decreased slightly since 2014. At that time around 16 percent of the population (12.7 million) spent more than 40 percent of their disposable income on housing. The good economy and the long booming labor market have increased incomes, which cushioned high rents and property prices.

Compared to other EU countries, people in Germany, where a large number of people rent, are hit hard by high housing costs. The situation was more difficult only in Greece (overload rate 36.2 percent), Bulgaria (16 percent) and Denmark (15.6 percent). In the Netherlands and Spain in 2019, less than 10 percent of the population spent more than 40 percent of their disposable income on housing. In Malta and Cyprus, the overload rate was less than three percent.

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Millions of people in Germany are overburdened by housing costs

TYour rents and high house prices make it difficult for many people in Germany. In 2019, around 11.4 million people lived in households that were financially overburdened by high housing costs, the Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday. That is almost 14 percent of the population. The authority sees an overload of housing costs when a household spends more than 40 percent of the available income on housing – regardless of whether the person concerned is renting or living in their own four walls and paying off a loan, for example.

On average, the population in Germany spent around 26 percent of their disposable household income on rent and ancillary costs or the maintenance of their home ownership last year, according to the Wiesbaden statisticians. In 2014, however, the share of housing costs in disposable household income was higher at 27 percent.

The overload rate has also decreased slightly since 2014. At that time around 16 percent of the population (12.7 million) spent more than 40 percent of their disposable income on housing. The good economy and the long booming labor market have increased incomes, which cushioned high rents and property prices.

Compared to other EU countries, people in Germany, where a large number of people rent, are hit hard by high housing costs. The situation was more difficult only in Greece (overload rate 36.2 percent), Bulgaria (16 percent) and Denmark (15.6 percent). In the Netherlands and Spain in 2019, less than 10 percent of the population spent more than 40 percent of their disposable income on housing. In Malta and Cyprus, the overload rate was less than three percent.

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Hamster purchases: there is enough for everyone

TOilette paper has become a symbol of hamster purchases since the Corona crisis. Hardly any product was in such demand among consumers: In the second week of March, sales of toilet paper rose by 135 percent compared to 2019, and in the last week of March sales were 24 percent higher than in the previous week. That comes from figures from the market researcher Iri. Now there are concerns that consumer goods and food will become scarce again. Are you eligible? The most important questions and answers:

Are there any hamster purchases in Germany again?

The demand for toilet paper, disinfectants and soap is still not as high as in March. The Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday that sales of toilet paper between October 12 and 17 increased by almost 90 percent compared to the average for the pre-crisis months from August 2019 to January 2020. Accordingly, sales of disinfectants rose by a good three quarters and that of Steife by almost two thirds. However, these data must be used with caution, as they are not representative of the purchasing behavior of German consumers. Only a small number of branches are included in the data. “Evaluations of this kind are of an experimental nature,” says the Federal Statistical Office. There have also been fluctuations in sales of consumer goods since the Corona crisis.

What does the German food trade say?

The German grocers are not yet talking about buying hamsters. In some branches, however, there is again a slightly increased demand, according to the discounters Lidl and Aldi Süd. According to Lidl, this has mainly affected hygiene products such as toilet paper. According to the discounter Aldi Nord and the supermarkets Edeka and Kaufland, there is currently no nationwide change in purchasing behavior. “From our point of view, there is no reason to create additional supplies,” said a Kaufland spokeswoman.

There was also an enormous demand for certain products such as toilet paper or disinfectants in the Dm drugstore in February and March. “The situation has now calmed down and demand has consolidated, so that we are currently not seeing any signs of stockpiling purchases,” said Sebastian Bayer, Managing Director of Dm, when asked. In the course of the corona pandemic, the drugstore added certain goods, such as disinfectants, to its range in higher quantities. Short-term bottlenecks can occur in individual branches, but according to the grocer this is usually not the case.

And what if the demand continues to rise?

At least dealers and manufacturers are giving the all-clear: “Based on the experience of the past few months, we are monitoring fluctuations in demand very closely,” said a spokeswoman for Aldi Süd. The companies are prepared for stronger demand. The other grocers are also planning without bottlenecks.

The Swedish company Essity is also prepared. In seven factories in Germany, the company produces products such as Zewa toilet paper and “Tempo” paper tissues. Around 283,000 tons of goods such as toilet paper and handkerchiefs leave the Mannheim plant every year. “As the largest manufacturer of toilet paper in Germany, we have always been producing around the clock, including on weekends,” said a spokeswoman. Demand has normalized again in the past few weeks. And the company can also react if there is a greater need for toilet paper. It is therefore “not at all necessary to buy more than necessary”.

Why are there any hamster purchases at all?

The business psychologist Michaela Wänke from the University of Mannheim explained the behavior in an article in the FAZ (March 3, 2020 edition): “If goods become scarce, the need for them increases,” she said. So if there is a threat of a food shortage in the supermarket, the consumer wants to stock up on it as a precaution – regardless of whether there is an actual bottleneck or not. “First of all, it is rational to take precautions and stock up on things if you fear future shortages.” A possible shortage would make goods more attractive. Experts also emphasize that the pictures of empty shelves, but also media reports on hamster purchases, can actually lead to more people feeling the need to hoard food and consumer goods.

What should consumers do now?

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance has been recommending keeping food ready for emergencies for several years. In a guidebook from the Federal Office, for example, the Federal Office suggests keeping 4 kilograms of vegetables and pulses, 1.5 kilograms of meat or eggs and 2.5 kilograms of fruit and nuts in stock. The list of supposedly important foods is available to print out and tick on the website. It is therefore an advantage to have a small supply ready. However, no one has to have hamsters for this.

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Who is still in town now?

“Everything has to go”, “We are closing”: The longer the Corona crisis lasts, the more often signs like this one can be seen in Germany’s inner cities. The German Retail Association (HDE) anticipates that 50,000 of the current 450,000 retail stores will be closed for this reason. And that under the premise that politics will not close all stores across the board again, as in the spring, except for supermarkets and drugstores.

Julia Löhr

The equity of many inner-city retail companies has been used up, says HDE managing director Stefan Genth. However, sales are still on average 30 percent below the level of the previous year. “In the clothing trade in particular, many companies are facing bankruptcy.”

On Tuesday, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) held an “inner city summit” from Berlin with around 20 representatives from trade and local authorities. The cities should become “favorite places for the people” again, he said.

The event did not produce any concrete results. It is “the beginning of a structured process,” said Altmaier after the virtual discussion. An action plan is to be developed in the coming weeks. “The need is great,” said the minister. On the one hand, he wants to help companies develop new sources of revenue in the digital world. In the cities, however, the aim must also be to create “adventure spaces with culture and gastronomy”.

The trade calls for help from the federal government

This approach is not new, the much-cited shop death has been observed since the turn of the millennium. The Federal Statistical Office counted more than 400,000 retail companies in Germany at that time. In 2018, these are the most recent figures, there were no more 340,000. The 2008/2009 financial crisis accelerated the downward trend again. At the time, management consultants reported the trend “Food is the new retail”: more gastronomy instead of retail. But in Corona times that shouldn’t help much. In addition to retail, the catering industry is also in a deep crisis.

So what can be done to keep cities attractive – or to make them attractive again? Unsurprisingly, the trade association would like more financial help from politicians. He would like 100 million euros from Altmaier to help retailers with digitization. The companies’ reserves have been used up. He is also demanding a 500 million euro inner city fund from Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). The money is to be used, among other things, to set up a register that records vacancies.

Money alone is not everything, says Berlin’s Senator for Economic Affairs Ramona Pop (Greens) in an interview with the FAZ. Among other things, she suggests loosening the Sunday opening hours. “Would it really be that bad if the stores were allowed to open at least one Sunday a month?” She asks. There are talks between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Labor on the subject at federal level, but so far without any result. Pop also sees a duty to the real estate industry. “I would like to see much more concession from the commercial landlords.” After all, there are currently no queues for empty shops.

British Treasury Secretary advises artists to take up new jobs

The Green politician is convinced that metropolises like Berlin will retain their attraction despite the current crisis. Politicians could not save every job with aid programs, but ensure “that the structures do not break, that there will be a large number of restaurants, clubs, cinemas and shops in the cities in the future.” That the population of the capital for the first time since Since 2003, it has not increased any further, but actually decreased slightly, Pop does not worry. “Once the worst is over, many young people from Europe and all over the world will again be drawn to Berlin.”

The British Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak recently advised musicians, artists, actors and creatives that they might be better off looking for other jobs. One sometimes has to adapt one’s plans in life to new realities, said the conservative politician. The proposal sparked an outcry among creative people, as it shakes up what makes life in cities so interesting. Economists take a more sober view of the matter. “If cultural events can no longer take place in the foreseeable future, that is the logical consequence,” says Jens Südekum from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Bankruptcies are inevitable. But Südekum also points out: “The entry and exit costs in these industries are relatively low. It is easier to open a cinema after the crisis than a steel mill. “

The question remains when this crisis will actually be over. If virologists have their way, distance rules and mask requirements should remain in place even if there is a vaccine against the coronavirus. For retailers, restaurateurs, cinemas and event organizers, this means that they will not be able to work economically well into the coming year, possibly even until 2022. Politicians are aware of this problem – and trust in the power of large numbers. According to Berlin, only a small part of the previous aid programs has flowed out. Unlike the companies concerned, politicians still have reserves. Economics Minister Altmaier tried on Tuesday to spread confidence. Hopefully “largely normal business operations” will be possible again by the middle of next year. He also called the preservation of the inner cities a question of “national identity”.

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Gynecologists fear anti-abortion campaigns


Where are you going, doctor?
Image: www.plainpicture.com

In Germany, the number of doctors who perform abortions is falling. Our author set out to find the reasons. Many gynecologists are afraid of anti-abortion campaigns.

Amy Coney Barrett is to become the new judge at the Supreme Court on the proposal of American President Donald Trump. The nomination of the conservative Catholic and mother of seven has heated emotions, largely because of Barrett’s adopted attitude towards abortion. Part of American society sees it as the possible tip on the scales in order to curtail the (criminal) free decision about an abortion in the future. The other part is hoping for legal interpretations in the sense of Pro-LifeMovement that aims to make it more difficult to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Social dissent over abortion is less intense in Germany than in the United States. And yet the topic is always an issue for us to discuss. In recent years, it has often been about the number of doctors willing to perform the procedure. Because it is declining. So massive in comparison to the beginning of the two thousand years that some people ask whether there are still enough.

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The average age of parents is increasing

KIndian wars postponed: The average age of fathers in Germany has risen significantly since the early 1990s. Men who became the father of a child in 2019 were on average 34.6 years old, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Friday. This means that the average age of fathers when a child was born has increased by 3.6 years since 1991, as the Federal Office announced, citing a new study by the Federal Institute for Population Research.

At 31.5 years of age, the mothers of the children born in 2019 were on average 3.6 years older than the mothers of the babies in 1991. Two thirds of all men who became fathers in 2019 were between 29 and 39 years old. Six percent were older than 44. Of the mothers, 65 percent were between 29 and 39 years old and 0.3 percent were older than 44.

In a comparison of the federal states, in 2019 in Saxony-Anhalt the fathers giving birth to children were the youngest at 34.0 years and the mothers at 30.6 years. The average age at the birth of the offspring was highest in Hamburg, where the fathers were 35.4 years old and the mothers 32.4 years old.

Germany belongs to the “older” third of the average age of fathers giving birth to children in the European Union. According to estimates for 2017, fathers in Italy, Greece and Spain were the oldest at the birth of their children at around 36 years of age – in Germany the average age in that year was 34.4 years. They were youngest in Romania when they were around 32 years old. In Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria too, the average age of fathers at birth was less than 33.

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Prices are falling more than they have been in five years

Dhe lower VAT and falling energy costs caused German consumer prices to fall more sharply in September than they have been for more than five and a half years. They fell by 0.2 percent compared to the same month last year, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Tuesday. That was the biggest decline since the beginning of 2015. In August the rate of inflation was still zero percent, in July it was minus 0.1 percent.

“The inflation rate is influenced, among other things, by the VAT cut, which has been in effect since July 1, 2020,” it said. As a measure of the federal government’s economic stimulus package in the fight against the corona crisis, this was reduced for six months from 19 to 16 percent on July 1, which is intended to boost consumption. Many companies have promised to pass the reduction on to their customers in full.

Energy prices are falling particularly sharply

Goods were cheaper in September by an average of 1.7 percent. Energy prices fell particularly sharply at 7.1 percent. Food prices rose by just 0.6 percent, after the price premium in August was 0.7 percent. Services cost 1.0 percent more than a year earlier, with net rents rising again by 1.4 percent.

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Real wages fell sharply in the second quarter


In the first quarter, real wages had risen by 0.4 percent.
Image: dpa

Compared to the same period in the previous year, real wages fell by 4.7 percent in the second quarter of 2020, reports the Federal Statistical Office. Short-time working has cushioned even greater losses in income.

Dhe real wages in Germany fell more sharply during the Corona crisis than ever since the survey began. As the Federal Statistical Office announced on Tuesday, real wages in the three-month period from April to June were 4.7 percent lower than in the same quarter of the previous year. Short-time work has partially cushioned the loss of income.

In nominal terms, i.e. not adjusted for price, gross monthly earnings including special payments fell by around 4.0 percent. Consumer prices rose by almost 0.8 percent in the same period.

The resulting drop in real earnings of around 4.7 percent is, according to the Federal Office, the “historically strongest decrease in nominal and real wages compared to the previous year since the start of the time series in 2007 and thus stronger than in the financial market crisis of 2008/2009”. In the first quarter real wages rose by 0.4 percent. This was already the weakest rate of increase since the last quarter of 2013.

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Inflation rate in Germany becomes negative

DAccording to preliminary figures, the inflation rate in Germany turned negative in July. As the Federal Statistical Office announced on the basis of an initial estimate, consumer prices fell by 0.1 percent compared to the same month in the previous year. The inflation rate was influenced, among other things, by the reduction in value added tax that had been in effect since July 1, 2020, the office said. Most recently, the monthly inflation rate in Germany in April 2016 was negative.

The detailed inflation figures for the federal states show that heating oil and fuel became cheaper compared to the previous year. Food such as fruit, vegetables and meat also became more expensive. Apparently prices for clothing also fell. There had been speculation in advance about a possible discount battle in the German clothing retail sector as a result of the Corona crisis. After the lockdown ended, many clothing stores advertised discounts of 30, 50 or even 70 percent.

Incomplete transfer of the tax reduction

In order to give the German economy a new boost in the Corona crisis, the federal legislature had temporarily reduced VAT from the beginning of July to the end of the year. Retailers and service providers are free to decide whether and how they pass on the lower VAT to consumers.

So far there are only estimates of how much that happened. Holger Schmieding, the chief economist at the Hamburg-based bank Berenberg, used the inflation figures for North Rhine-Westphalia to assume that apparently a little more than half of the VAT reduction had actually been passed on. “A look at the detailed figures from North Rhine-Westphalia suggests that the effect on the inflation rate was, as expected, a good one percentage point,” said Schmieding of the FAZ If passed on to customers, the VAT effect would have been around 2 percentage points.

Commerzbank also has an effect on inflation due to the reduction in value added tax of around one percentage point, albeit rather scarce. “The apparently incomplete transfer of the VAT reduction is not a problem economically. Because it supports the profits of companies that got under the wheel because of Corona, ”said Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank.

Food inflation rate exceptionally high

A significant proportion of the countries in the euro zone now have negative monthly inflation rates. According to the European Central Bank, there were nine in June and twelve in May. In June that included Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain, and in May also Belgium, Finland and Portugal.

The ECB also dealt extensively with the rise in food prices in the euro area at the beginning of the Corona crisis. In its monthly economic report, the central bank wrote that this could only be compared with the phase of the introduction of the euro. In this phase, the European common currency had been nicknamed “Teuro” because some products of everyday life and in the catering industry became significantly more expensive.

At 1.1 percent, the monthly food inflation rate was now exceptionally high in April, the ECB said. “Apart from a few temporary peaks due to the increase in indirect taxes, such a rate of change has hardly been observed since 1999,” the authors write. The only similarly significant increase occurred in January 2002 at the time of the euro cash changeover.

In part, the price changes were published in more detail than at the federal level. In Hesse, inflation fell 0.1 percent in July. For energy, consumers had to pay 7.9 percent less in July than in the same month of the previous year. In particular, heating oil (minus 31.7) and fuel (minus 14.4) were significantly cheaper, according to the State Statistical Office. Without taking the total energy into account, the inflation rate in Hesse in July 2020 would have been 0.8 percent. In contrast, the cost of food rose by 0.8 percent year-on-year. Fruit (plus 6.1) and meat and meat products (plus 4.8) were the most expensive. Apartment rentals also had to be paid more than in July 2019 (plus 1.7 percent).

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Average number of children per woman dropped to 1.54

Dhe average number of children per woman in Germany has dropped to 1.54. At the same time, the number of children born last year, at around 778,100 babies, was 9,400 lower than in 2018, as the Federal Statistical Office announced in Wiesbaden on Wednesday. This brought the total birth rate to 1.54 children per woman in 2019, compared to 1.57 children a year earlier.

The combined birth rate is used to describe the current birth behavior. It indicates how many children a woman would have in the course of her life if her birth behavior was like that of all women between 15 and 49 years in the year under review.

The birth rate decreased in 14 of the 16 federal states. Only in Bavaria and Bremen did it remain at the previous year’s level. The birth rate was highest in Bremen and Lower Saxony with 1.6 children per woman. Berlin, on the other hand, was the country with the lowest birth rate with 1.41 children per woman.

According to the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), the combined birth rate in Germany in 2018 was slightly higher than the EU average (1.55 children per woman). The highest birth rate was at 1.88 children per woman in France at that time and the lowest at 1.23 children per woman in Malta.

Women in Germany have their first child ever later in life: when they were born for the first time, women were an average of 30.1 years old in 2019. Ten years earlier, the average age at birth of the first child was 28.8 years. When the second child was born, mothers were on average 32.2 years old in 2019, and 33.2 years old when the third child was born. In a comparison of the federal states, women were the oldest in Hamburg when they gave birth to their first child at 31.2 years, and youngest in Saxony-Anhalt at 28.9 years. According to the age of the first child, the mothers in Germany belonged to the older third in Germany in 2018.

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