Life expectancy of poor Germans plummets: government

12th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany, one of Europe's fastest-ageing societies, has seen a sharp drop in the life expectancy of its poorest citizens, according to official data published Monday.

Workers with below-average incomes reached a median age of 75.5 years in 2010, down from 77.5 years in 2001, with the trend particularly marked in the economically depressed states of the former communist east.

No reason was given in the government report for the drop.

The data was released after an official query filed by the far-left party Die Linke, which has called for the repeal of a reform due to start next year to gradually hike the retirement age to 67 years from 65.

The issue is to be debated by the Bundestag lower house on December 15.

Die Linke argues that raising the retirement age amounts to slashing pension benefits to the poorest Germans as they will not live as long to enjoy them as their wealthier compatriots in Europe's top economy.

"Awarding pensions only from the age of 67 remains nothing more than a giant pension cutting programme which hits hardest the lowest earners and people who must do the most physically strenuous work," the deputy who filed the query, Matthias Birkwald, said in a statement.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, also agreed this month to fight the introduction of the reform, approved while they were in government, as long as less than 50 percent of seniors still of working age were employed.

According to Eurostat, Germany has the most inhabitants over the age of 65 in Europe, with 20.6 percent of its population.

© 2011 AFP

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