Learn more about specific causes in Germany that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentDue to the government’s staunch adherence to sustainable energy sources, the cost of electricity in Germany is high compared to that of other European countries.1 Studies predict that Germany’s renewable energy sources may account for 35 percent of all electricity production by 2020.2 Furthermore, the public is very against the construction of more landfills and incineration sites.3 As Germany is a heavily industrialized country, water and air pollution are a concern,4 and acid rain that fell several decades ago is still an issue for areas like the Kronau forest, where the government continues to send helicopters to dust the area with limestone in hopes of neutralizing the acidic soil.5
PovertyThere are approximately 14 million people out of the nearly 83 million people in Germany who are considered low income, living below the poverty line,1 comprising of 16.7 percent of the population.2 Even though the unemployment rate is low, at 3.8 percent, that has not automatically translated to a declining poverty level.3 In fact, the two are becoming more and more dissociated. Though the economy reflects growth, 15 percent of the population is below the poverty line.4
ReligionApproximately 40 percent of Germans consider themselves to be nonreligious.1 After the reunification of East and West Germany, the number of atheist citizens rose dramatically due to the fact that East Germany was a predominantly atheist state.2 The constitution of Germany mandates the freedom of faith and religion.3 There is no state church in Germany and no one may be discriminated against due to his or her religion.4 Just over 50 percent of Germans consider themselves Christians, 25 percent Protestant, 26 percent Catholic, with the rest of the population being Muslim (5 percent), Buddhist (1 percent) or Other (3 percent).
Clean WaterThe German Association of Energy and Water Industries is responsible for the majority of water distribution in the nation, and is committed to sustainable energy sources. 1 The nation has a healthy, stable supply of groundwater2 In recent years, Germany has invested roughly $5.3 billion into their water management systems.3 Throughout the country, there are nearly 10,000 water treatment plants.4 Nearly all households and public establishments are connected to the public water supply, providing near-universal clean water access.5 Recently, Germany has seen a decrease in popular water consumption, a rate lower than that of many similar countries.6
EconomyGermany has the fifth largest economy in the world1 with a GDP purchasing power of $4 trillion, and GDP per capita of $50,200.2 The unemployment rate is low, sitting at 3.8 percent.3 With the largest economy in Europe, Germany is a major player in the European Union, especially in trade, and has invested significant resources in growing the economy of the entire region.4 The nation anticipates continued GDP growth through investment and trade.5
GovernmentGermany’s government is classified as a federal parliamentary republic, with its government offices based in Berlin and the Federal Chancellor and the Cabinet of Federal Ministers making up the primary governing body.1 Germany garners international praise for being a country with high government transparency and stringent anti-corruption laws.2 Transparency International, an international coalition against corruption, gives Germany a score of 81 in resisting systemic corruption, ranking them 12th out of 180 countries.3 Workers unions, business, religious and veterans groups are influential in policy making.4
HealthGermany has a universal health care system that provides coverage for children and adults alike.6 The government spends 4.9 percent of its GDP on healthcare annually.2 Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the European Union,3 and currently in Germany, 78,000 people are living HIV positive.4 Though social stigmas are not what they once were, HIV positive Germans still face nominal discrimination.5 In the workplace, many are not able to admit that they have the disease for fear of the reaction.6
ChildrenGerman courts rigorously protect children by enforcing labor laws and condemning the sexual exploitation of children.1 Children are also protected under Title VIII of the Social Code.2 This code provides children social services, grants them the right to seek assistance in their own development and gives them the right to basic education.3 Foster parenting, day care centers and support payments are some of the programs that are implemented to support children and families.4 Germany falls fourth in the upper tier of first-world countries in the International Youth Foundation’s Youth Index, yet 31 percent of German young people use tobacco, far higher than the average rate in Europe, which is just 19 percent.4 Along with tobacco use, suicide rates are particularly high. Fifteen in every 100,000 Read More German youth commit suicide each year.5 Show Less
FamilyOn average, German women do not become mothers until they are 30 years old, and fathers are typically 35 before having their first child.1 Therefore, most German families are small, having one or two children.2 This leaves Germany with one of the oldest populations, just behind Japan, even though the birth rate is on the rise.3 Currently, German families do not have the right to homeschool their children.4 If a family fails to enroll their child in secondary education, the German government considers it to be endangering to the child.5 Children can be forcibly removed from the parents’ care if the courts see fit,6 even though Germany has previously supported strong human rights policies granting parents the right to raise their children as they see Read More fit.7 Show Less
Human RightsAs a member of the United Nations, Germany agrees to uphold clear, adamant human rights policy.1 Recently, approximately 9,000 refugees arriving through Italy and Greece were resettled in Germany, as well as almost 300 from Egypt and Lebanon and 2,700 from Syria arriving through Turkey.2 These asylum seekers and refugees often report complaints regarding the conditions in reception centers and restrictions on their mobility.3 With the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers from predominantly Muslim nations, tensions have surfaced between the Muslim and Jewish populations, sparking protest against division and mistreatment from both groups.4
EducationGermany is 22nd in spending on education, far lower than its neighboring European countries.1 The nation utilizes tracks and vocational schooling options for students beginning at age 15, requiring students to choose a career direction at a young age.2 In 2014, all German universities became tuition-free for students.3 There is additional assistance for those who cannot afford additional expenses such as housing.4 With the influx of refugees since 2015, German primary schools now have refugee students in their classrooms, creating a new need for language instruction.5 There are approximately 400,000 refugee children in Germany, and in Berlin alone 1,100 welcome classes are being held in the city’s schools to introduce refugees to the German language.6
AnimalsAs a member of the European Union, Germany has legislation protecting animals: the German Animal Welfare Act.1 The Animal Welfare Act upholds that animals are creatures, and therefore should not be mistreated or misused.2
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