2028 euros salary – that is the average monthly net income that divides Germany into two halves: those who earn less belong to the poorer half, those who earn more belong to the wealthier half. But how much does it take to be rich? An interactive tool shows where you stand with your salary.

What is the net income in Germany that makes you rich? First of all, this is a question of definition. Of course, if you can afford a villa and a sports car with your salary, you are anything but poor. But sometimes it takes far less solvency than assumed to be one of the top earners in the country.

At least that’s what an analysis by the Institute of German Economics (IW) in Cologne from January shows. Economists have calculated where the line to the top 10 percent with the highest income actually runs.

The basis for this is the so-called Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), whose data is created by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and used by other research institutions such as the IW. At the SOEP, scientists regularly survey 19,000 private households in Germany and around 35,000 people about income, job changes and salary developments. The most recent income figures are from 2018.

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According to this, in 2018 a single person was among the 10 percent with the highest income if he had a net income of more than 3700 euros per month. Two years earlier, i.e. according to the data from 2016, the limit was still 3440 euros.

With an income of around 4560 euros, a single person reached the top 5 percent of the income distribution in 2018. In order to be among the highest-income percent of society, the income had to exceed the threshold of around 7190 euros. Extrapolated for the year, this would correspond to a net income of almost 86,000 euros – after taxes, levies and including transfer payments.

Taking into account the tax rules of 2018, a single person had to have an annual gross income of around 150,000 euros in order to be among the top 1 percent with the highest income in society.

With this calculator you can work out where you stand with your income:

It is important to note that the disposable net income can only be used as a guide. The sum only says something about the ultimate purchasing power to a limited extent. This depends on the cost of living, for example for rent or groceries, and can vary from region to region.

The focus of the study, however, is the so-called needs-weighted net income. The researchers take into account, among other things, that larger households have a greater need for living space or food. In other areas – such as joint insurance – the per capita costs are lower.

A couple without children therefore only needs to have 1.5 times the income of a single household in order to statistically draw the same income. It is also taken into account that younger children have a lower need than adults.

The researchers also examined which income groups most frequently belong to the top income group in Germany. The result: couple households without children are most common in the upper income bracket.

Nationwide, double-income couples (still) without children (also called DINK(Y)s, Double Income, No Kids (Yet)) make up around 4.6 percent of households. Another 9.3 percent of Germans have not yet retired and live together as a couple (also known as HIKOs, high income, kids out), while the children no longer live in the same household. Both groups are overrepresented in the top ten percent: 11.4 percent DINKYS and 17.2 percent HIKOs are counted here.

Single parents, on the other hand, are almost non-existent in the upper income bracket. With an average net income of 1466 euros (median value), they have to make do with more than 560 euros less than a typical single person (2028 euros net median). Economists speak of a “median income” or middle income when they name a value at which half of the citizens earn more and the other half less.

This is matched by the high poverty rate: 35 percent of single parents have to struggle with major financial challenges on a daily basis. For couples with children, on the other hand, the median income is 2,067 euros, and the poverty rate is 12 percent.

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