BERLIN, April 4 (Xinhua) -- A growing number of children in Germany rely on state financial aid provided by a welfare benefit system, said an official study published on Wednesday.
According to the study by the nation's federal labor office, almost two million minors in Germany relied on payments from the program named "Hartz IV" in June 2017, marking an increase of 8 percent compared to five years ago.
Mark Fallak from the Bonn-based Institute of Labor Economics said that aside from poverty, "the deeper problem is the lack of equal opportunity."
"Children from low socio-economic backgrounds have more difficulties developing the cognitive and non-cognitive skills that matter to education and labor market outcomes," Fallak said.
The federal labor office mainly attributed the increased number to the large-scale arrival of immigrant and refugee families in recent years.
Thorsten Lietzman of the Institute for Employment Research, the research institute of the federal labor agency, told the press on Tuesday that the new data demonstrated the increasing integration of foreigners who had attained residency status into the German social system.
"New groups have arrived in the social security net -- this is particularly visible in their children," Lietzman said.
Around 583,600 children under the age of 18 of non-German families relied on welfare benefits in June 2017, an increase of 41.1 percent compared to June 2016. This trend was particularly pronounced for Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan nationals.
The study also found stark regional inequalities in data. Only 6.8 percent of minors lived in families which received Hartz IV payments in the southeastern state of Bavaria, compared to nearly a third in the northern cities of Bremen and Berlin.