Anyone who has more than 3,440 euros net per month as a single person belongs to the upper class. This is how economists define the earliest ten percent of society. Childless couples count from a common household income of 5,160 euros net per month to the upper class. This emerges from a study by the Institute of German Business (IW) in Cologne.
The difference in the couple household results from the savings effect, because many costs of a single household fall for couples only once and not twice, telephone and Internet connection, for example.
For the study, the researchers of the employer-related IW evaluated data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The so-called demand-weighted average median income in 2016 (also called demand-weighted median income) amounted to € 1,869 net per month. This means that half of the population had more than this amount, the other half but less available. Demand-weighted income takes into account various factors, such as younger children having lower needs than adults, couples and families, but greater housing needs and the like.
It is striking how strongly the life situation affects the risk of poverty: According to the study, 75 percent of lone parents have less than the demand-weighted median income. Even 60 percent of singles are poorer. In contrast, 64 percent of childless couples have more than this amount available each month.
For lone parents, there is another effect: the average income of single parents is € 1,309 net per month. With this sum one counts to the income-poorest quarter of the population.
People with university degrees have an average of 2,541 euros
The average income of academics is therefore 2,541 euros for a single life. Three quarters of the population in Germany have less than this sum available each month.
In addition, the self-assessment of most people who statistically belong to the upper class is interesting. The authors of the study compared the data with the results of previous surveys and found that the majority of the well-to-do tend to sort themselves into the middle class, or at least to the upper middle class. But hardly anyone sees himself as belonging to the upper class. Why is that, the study finds no answers.
This may have something to do with the stereotypes and prejudices of the upper classes and wealth - but also with the fact that the income range for the upper class is wide. Very few people in Germany have a monthly income, for example through capital income, which is far above the statistical values. Media reports about top executives such as the former head of Daimler Dieter Zetsche, who should receive a pension of more than 4,250 euros per day from 2020, apparently shape the idea of many people from the upper class. Some might therefore think that only starting from a monthly income of tens of thousands of euros really belongs to the upper class.