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Press release

Eighty-year tradition behind GfK's calculation of purchasing power


Germans' purchasing power to climb moderately in 2015

According to the study "GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2015", Germans will have a nominal per-capita purchasing power increase of €572 in 2015. There are however substantial regional differences in the distribution of this purchasing power.

GfK forecasts a total purchasing power of €1,732.4 bil. for all of Germany in 2015. Based on the current population of 80,767,463 (as of 01.01.2014), this equates to €21,449 per person. This means that Germans will have an average of €572 (nominal value) or around 2.74 percent more per person at their disposal in 2015 for consumption, rent and other living costs compared to the previous year. Purchasing power corresponds to the population's disposable net income, including government subsidies such as pension payments, unemployment assistance and child benefit.

Given Eurostat's forecasted inflation rate of 1.4 percent and the stable income growth, Germans can look forward not just to nominal growth, but also a slight real-value growth of around 1.3 percent in per-capita purchasing power.

Regional 2015 purchasing power distribution

Six of Germany's 16 federal states have above-average per-capita purchasing power. The eastern German federal states are catching up, but continue to have below-average per-capita purchasing power.

2015 ranking of Germany's federal states

​federal state ​inhabitants 2015 per-capita purchasing power purchasing power index
​1 ​Hamburg ​1,746,342 ​€23,664 ​110.3
​2 ​Bavaria    ​12,604,244 ​€23,401 ​109.1
​3 ​Baden-Württemberg ​10,631,278 ​€22,952 ​107.0
​4 ​Hesse ​6,045,425 ​€22,858 ​106.6
​5 ​Schleswig-Holstein 2,815,955 ​€21,611 ​100.8
​6 ​North Rhein-Westphalia ​17,571,856 ​€21,458 ​100.0
​7 ​Rhineland-Palatinate ​3,994,366 ​€21,120 ​98.5
​8 ​Lower Saxony ​7,790,559 ​€21,005 ​97.9
​9 ​Saarland ​990,718 ​€20,009 ​93.3
​10 ​Bremen ​657,391 ​€19,909 ​92.8
​11 ​Berlin ​3,421,829 ​€19,649 ​91.6
​12 ​Brandenburg ​2,449,193 ​€19,197 ​89.5
​13 ​Saxony ​4,046,385 ​€18,108 ​84.4
​14 ​Thuringia ​2,160,840 ​€18,101 ​84.4
​15 Saxony-Anhalt ​2,244,577 ​€17,848 ​83.2
​16 ​Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania ​1,596,505 ​€17,790 ​82.9

source: GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2015 
*index per inhabitant; 100 = national average

With two exceptions, the list of Germany's top 10 urban and rural districts remains unchanged. With an index value of 124.9, the urban district of Erlangen edges the rural district of Dachau (index: 123.6) out of eighth place. With an index value of 120.7, the rural district of Stormarn once again enters the top ten, while the rural district of Miesbach falls out of the ranking.

Top ten urban and rural districts in 2015

urban district (UD) /
rural district (RD)
​inhabitants 2015 per-capita purchasing power purchasing power index
​1 ​Starnberg RD ​130,811 ​€31,479 ​146.8
​2 ​Hochtaunuskreis RD ​229,167 ​€30,824 ​143.7
​3 ​Munich RD ​329,981 ​€30,171 ​140.7
​4 ​Main-Taunus-Kreis RD ​228,021 ​€29,293 ​136.6
​5 ​Munich UD ​1,407,836 ​€29,085 ​135.6
​6 ​Ebersberg RD ​133,007 ​€28,725 ​133.9
​7 ​Fürstenfeldbruck RD ​208,272 ​€27,010 ​125.9
​8 ​Erlangen RD ​105,624 ​€26,784 ​124.9
​9 ​Dachau RD ​144,407 ​€26,506 ​123.6
​10 ​Stormarn RD ​234,674 ​€25,892 ​120.7

source: GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2015    
*index per inhabitant; 100 = national average

The rural district of Starnberg remains Germany's district with the highest per-capita purchasing power, while the rural district of Görlitz remains in last place. The divide between the rich and poor has narrowed somewhat: Compared to the previous year, per-capita purchasing power in Starnberg has only climbed moderately to €31,479. This equates to 47 percent above the national average. Meanwhile, the rural district of Görlitz has closed the gap somewhat with a 2015 average purchasing power of €16,645, which is just under 53 percent of the average purchasing power available to inhabitants of Starnberg. As such, the absolute difference between the districts with the most and least purchasing power decreases from almost €15,500 to just €14,835.

Stark regional variations in Germany's purchasing power

Significant regional contrasts are apparent not just between eastern and western Germany, and between central and southern Germany. Substantial purchasing power variations also exist within the individual federal states. However, these differences are more pronounced in some federal states than others.

Among all of Germany's federal states, Bavaria has the greatest purchasing power divide between individual districts. With €31,479, the rural district of Starnberg is the clear frontrunner. The rural district of Freyung-Grafenau has an average per-capita purchasing power of €18,243, which equates to only 58 percent of Starnberg's purchasing power.

Bavaria is divided into 96 districts, which is far more districts than any other federal state. Its larger purchasing power gap is partly explained by this greater number of regional subdivisions. A similar situation characterizes the federal state of Hesse, although it is only divided into 26 districts. The average purchasing power in the district of Werra-Meißner-Kreis (€18,719 Euro) is 39 percent less than that of the district of Hochtaunuskreis (€30,824 per capita), which is less than 200 km away. The gap between the extremes in Hesse is thus €12,105 per person, which is similar to Bavaria (€13,236 per person).

The situation is very different in the federal state of Saxony: The nationally last-ranked district of Görlitz has only 15 percent less than Saxony's district with the highest purchasing power: Dresden (€19,488 per person). This means that inhabitants of Dresden have only €2,843 more per person than inhabitants of the rural district of Görlitz. When it comes to the distribution of purchasing power, the federal state of Saxony is thus significantly more homogenous than Bavaria and Hesse.

Gaps in purchasing power values are related to the absolute purchasing power levels: The purchasing power gap is very wide in federal states with high average purchasing power such as Bavaria and Hesse. By contrast, the purchasing power gap is very narrow in federal states with low average purchasing power, as can be observed throughout all of eastern Germany as well as in Saarland. The federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhein-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein fall in the middle in terms of both the purchasing power gap and the average purchasing power. In these federal states, the purchasing power gap ranges from €6,020 to €8,068, while per-capita purchasing power ranges from €21,005 to 21,611. There is one exception: The federal state of Baden-Württemberg has high purchasing power, but a relatively narrow purchasing power gap of €5,300.

Federal states in which high purchasing power has developed over time exhibit greater heterogeneity. Individual districts in these areas have enjoyed increasing purchasing power over a long period of time, thus outpacing other regions in the same federal state. This trend has not yet progressed to this degree in regions with low purchasing power, such as eastern Germany: While cities such as Dresden, Jena and Potsdam have higher purchasing power than the surrounding areas, the gap is still moderate. By contrast, purchasing power in Starnberg has been robustly increasing for decades now, which had led to a wide gap in comparison to Bavarian regions with more moderate growth, such as Bayerischer Wald / Oberpfalz.

80 years of purchasing power data for Germany

GfK calculated the first purchasing power study in 1934 and published the first study in 1937. The distribution of consumer potential was also the first study carried out by the "Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung e.V.", which evolved into today's GfK SE, which is active in 100 countries. GfK is one of the largest international market research companies, delivering smart insights for growth strategies – for online and offline. "The 80-year anniversary of the purchasing power study is a testament to GfK's long history of innovation," says Matthias Hartmann, CEO of GfK SE.

About the study

GfK Purchasing Power is defined as the sum of the net income of the population, as measured at the place of residence. These purchasing power figures take into account income related to self- and non-self employment as well as capital gains and government subsidies, such as unemployment assistance, child benefit and pension contributions. Expenditures related to living expenses, insurance, rent and associated costs such as utilities (gas and/or electricity), clothing and savings plans have to be covered by this sum. As a result, a nominal increase in purchasing power does not mean that each individual has more actual money at his or her disposal if rising costs for the above-mentioned expenditures exceed the purchasing power increase. Also important to note is the fact that the purchasing power of a given region reflects an average value among the inhabitants living there rather than the purchasing power of specific individuals, households or the associated income distribution and gap between "rich" and "poor".

Calculations are carried out on the basis of reported income and earnings, statistics on state taxes and deductions as well as economic forecasts provided by leading economic institutes. GfK releases the purchasing power prognosis for the new year on January 1. As of that time, GfK purchasing power data is available for all of Germany's urban and rural districts, municipalities and postcodes. The purchasing power data for street segments is updated in the second half of the year.

Applications of purchasing power

The regional GfK purchasing power data serves as an important planning basis for sales and marketing endeavors among companies from a diverse range of branches. These applications require a realistic depiction of the regional distribution of purchasing power. The focus of the study is consequently not on tracking data trends over the years, but rather on providing a prognosis that reflects this regional distribution. It is therefore not advisable to compare current figures with data from previous years.

Note to editors: rates of increase published only in this press release The 2014 values mentioned in the press release for the sake of comparison are based on revised values. At the end of 2013, a per-capita purchasing power of €21,579 was forecasted for 2014. The actual inflation rates and figures on income growth available at the end of 2014 have led to an adjustment in the average nationwide 2014 purchasing power to €20,877. Based on this revised value, a nationwide nominal (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) per-capita purchasing power increase of 2.74 is forecasted for 2015. Purchasing power trends in individual regions are however dependent upon numerous factors, including changes in the regional job market and demographics.

Additional information on GfK's regional market data can be found at

Print-quality illustrations can be found at

About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

Additional information can be found at www.gfk.com.
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