In 2023, a good three-quarters (76%) of individuals in the primary working age of 25 to 64 years in Germany primarily funded their livelihoods through their own employment. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), which released the initial results of the 2023 Microcensus, this accounted for 34.5 million people.

Respondents reported the following other main sources of income:

  • 8% relied on support from relatives (e.g., a partner living in the household)
  • 6% primarily funded themselves through unemployment benefits (Unemployment Benefit I or Citizen’s Income)
  • 5% received pensions or retirement benefits
  • 1% predominantly lived on parental allowance
  • 3% received other support services (e.g., social assistance or sickness benefits)
  • 1% primarily funded themselves through their own assets, capital gains, or rental income

There are significant differences between men and women regarding the main source of livelihood: 83% of men aged 25 to 64 primarily funded their livelihoods through their own employment, compared to only 69% of women. This disparity clearly leads to dependencies.

Women reported support from relatives (13%) and parental allowance (2%) as their main source of livelihood more frequently than men (2% and 0.1%, respectively). The gender differences were smaller regarding unemployment benefits (6% for both women and men), assets, rental income and capital gains (1% each), and pensions and retirement benefits (5% for women; 4% for men).

Immigrants are less likely to live off their own employment
Immigrants, defined as individuals who have moved to Germany since 1950, were less likely to primarily fund their livelihoods through their own employment (67%) compared to non-immigrants (80%). This difference was particularly notable among immigrant women, with only just over half (55%) citing their own employment as their primary source of income, compared to nearly three-quarters (74%) of women without an immigration background.

Among men, the difference between immigrants (78%) and non-immigrants (85%) was less pronounced. According to Destatis, these deviations are influenced by factors such as age and household structure, professional qualifications, and opportunities for entry and advancement in the labor market, varying by region of origin.

Second generation immigrants more often support themselves
The differences compared to the non-immigrant population were significantly smaller among the second generation of immigrants, i.e., children of parents who both immigrated to Germany since 1950. Here, 84% of men (compared to 85% of men without an immigration background) and 67% of women (compared to 74% of women without an immigration background) primarily funded their livelihoods through their own employment.

Methodological notes
The Microcensus is a sample survey that annually questions around 1% of the population in Germany. All data is based on self-reported information from respondents. To make statements about the overall population, the data is extrapolated based on population projections. The results presented are for individuals living in private households.

A person has an immigration background if they or both their parents have immigrated to Germany since 1950. The results refer to the population aged 25 to 64 years in private households (2023: 45.2 million people); individuals living in communal accommodations (such as refugees) are not included in the results.

Profilbild von Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski is a financial journalist and author of various investment fund-related and other financial books. She is also a co-founder of the "Fondsfrauen" network.

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