In the 2110s, Germany became the economic and political anchor of Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel often seemed a beacon of sanity among a sea of political buffoons. It was a dramatic transformation which happened only this century. In 1999, with glum businessmen presiding over a sluggish economy, Germany was the “sick man of Europe.”
Fundamental social and economic reforms were implemented in 2003. The German economy only managed a modest revival before the 2008 global financial crisis struck.
The shimmering image Germany now projects internationally has a gloomy underside. Many highly skilled workers have experienced a sharp increase in their wages, but over 1 in 5 workers languishes in problematic employment, barely sustaining themselves. Wages for the bottom 1/3rd of the labor force were lower in 2018 than they were in 2000.
Poverty has been rising. 20% of German children are pauperized.
Among Europeans, the average German household has one of the lowest levels of private wealth. Few Germans own their own homes. While Germans are generally thrifty, low interest rates mean saving accounts do little for wealth accumulation. Germany has one of the highest levels of wealth inequality in Europe.
Economic opportunity and social mobility are dismal. The German gender pay gap is one the largest in Europe.
A person’s income is strongly correlated with his or her parents’ income and education. Children from socially disadvantaged families have a hard time making use of their talents: obtaining good qualifications and jobs. ~ German economist Marcel Fratzscher