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Germans' purchasing power climbs two percent

Bruchsal, 14.12.2015

Germans are poised to enjoy a nominal purchasing power increase of €430 per person in the coming year. This is one of the findings of GfK's new study, GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2016. The GfK data shows significant differences in how this purchasing power is regionally distributed.

GfK forecasts a total purchasing power of €1,776.5 bil. for Germany in 2016. Based on the current population of around 81 million inhabitants, this equates to €21,879 per person. Compared to the previous year, Germans will thus benefit from a nominal average increase of two percent or €430 per person in 2016 for consumption, rent and other living costs. A forecast by the European Commission puts the 2016 inflation rate at one percent, which means Germans can expect a real-value purchasing power increase of one percent.

Purchasing power is a measure of the population's disposable net income, including government subsidies such as pension payments, unemployment assistance and child benefit.

Regional distribution of purchasing power

The list of Germany's top ten urban and rural districts remains the same as last year. As in previous years, the rural district of Starnberg is Germany's district with the highest per-capita purchasing power. With €31,850 per person, inhabitants of this district have 46 percent more than the national average.

Top ten urban and rural districts in 2016

2016 ranking urban district (UD) / rural district (RD) inhabitants GfK Purchasing Power 2016 per inhabitant in € purchasing power index*
1Starnberg RD 131,87331,850 145.6
2Hochtaunuskreis RD 230,79831,238 142.8
3Munich RD 332,80030,530 139.5
4Main-Taunus-Kreis RD 229,97629,665 135.6
5Munich UD 1,429,58429,578 135.2
6Ebersberg RD 134,87329,105 133.0
7Fürstenfeldbruck RD 210,27827,450 125.5
8Erlangen RD 106,42327,187 124.3
9Dachau RD 146,27926,861 122.8
10Stormarn RD 236,70526,321 120.3

source: GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2016
*index per inhabitant; 100 = national average

With €17,194 per person, the rural district of Görlitz continues to be in last place among Germany's 402 districts. The rural district of Oldenburg comes in at the national average.

The federal states in eastern Germany are slowly but surely catching up in terms of their purchasing power, but they still lag significantly behind Germany's other federal states. Even though a comparison of index values (deviation from average) reveals both positive and negative trends, the absolute volume of per-capita purchasing power is growing in all federal states, with the most growth in Saxony (+2.8 percent) and the least in Hamburg (+1.5 percent). The per-capita purchasing power increases in 2016 range from €360 to €500, depending on the federal state in question.

Federal states: Winners and losers in 2016

index change
compared to
previous year (absolute)
federal state GfK Purchasing
Power 2016 per inhabitant in €
purchasing power
+0.7Saxony18,615 85.1 13
+0.6Thuringia18,587 85.0 14
+0.6Saxony-Anhalt 18,335 83.8 15
+0.5Brandenburg 19,691 90.0 12
18,216 83.3 16
+0.2Saarland 20,463 93.5 9
+0.1Schleswig-Holstein 22,058 100.8 5
-0.1Bavaria23,843 109.0 2
-0.1Hesse23,293 106.5 4
-0.1North Rhine-Westphalia 21,876 100.0 6
-0.1Lower Saxony 21,409 97.9 8
-0.2Baden-Württemberg 23,368 106.8 3
-0.2Rhineland-Palatinate 21,500 98.3 7
-0.2Berlin19,990 91.4 11
-0.4Bremen20,224 92.4 10
-0.5Hamburg24,024 109.8 1

source: GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2016 *index per inhabitant; 100 = national average

Comparison of urban districts

The urban districts of Munich and Erlangen are the only urban districts in the top ten list – all others are rural districts. This shows that many inhabit-ants with high purchasing power continue to live in the commuter belts outside of urban areas, despite the trend toward reurbanization. Taking into account just the urban districts with more than 200,000 inhabitants yields the following urban distribution of purchasing power in Germany:

Ranking of urban districts with more than 200,000 inhabitants

urban district inhabitants purchasing power
in 2016
ranking of all
districts in 2016
1Munich 1,429,584135.25
3Frankfurt am Main 717,624115.424
5Stuttgart 612,441112.439

source: GfK Purchasing Power Germany 2016
*index per inhabitant; 100 = national average;
** more than 200,000 inhabitants

When comparing districts, purchasing power levels in the city center areas of metropolitan regions are frequently lower than expected. This is due to the fact that many students with low income in large university cities over-balance high purchasing power inhabitants in the same areas. For example, the city state of Hamburg is Germany's second most populated district and exceeds all other federal states in terms of per-capita purchasing power. But significant variations in purchasing power are apparent at the more granular district level. Hamburg is ranked just eighth among urban districts with more than 200,000 inhabitants, and just 52 among Germany’s urban and rural districts.

Substantial regional differences often exist side by side: Among Germany's urban districts, the urban district of Berlin is ranked 26, with a purchasing power index of 91.4. The neighboring urban district of Potsdam falls outside the ranking of Germany’s large urban districts with 164,000 inhabitants, but has a purchasing power index of 98.6, which is around the national average. The neighboring rural district of Potsdam-Mittelmark places even higher with a purchasing power index of 100.6, which makes it the district with highest purchasing power in Germany’s eastern federal states.

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 in January. 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.

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

Print-quality illustrations can be found here.

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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 consumer’s experiences and choices.

Additional information can be found at www.gfk.com.
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GfK GeoMarketing GmbH
Public Relations
Cornelia Lichtner
Werner-von-Siemens-Str. 9
Gebäude 6508
76646 Bruchsal; Germany
T+49 7251 9295 270

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