More than two million German children are living in families drawing the lowest level of social security, according to Labour Office statistics analyzed by Germany's largest regional newspaper.
The Essen-based Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported Wednesday that the figure had risen despite the country's strong economic performance.
It said 2,003,805 people under the age of 18 were living in so-called "communities in need" at the end of last year, drawing state aid widely known as "Hartz IV."
The report said the figure had risen 3.3 percent on the year, and the proportion of young people living on the most basic social security assistance had risen to 14.1 percent from 13.6 percent.
Researcher Klaus Hurrelmann told the newspaper that state assistance programmes were too focussed on parents, rather than directly on the children. "This is a major structural fault," he said.
Children should receive support outside the family structure, so that the assistance benefited young people whose parents attached little value to schooling, Hurrelmann said.
He pointed to German evidence that less prosperous parents were also less interested in encouraging their children to study at higher levels.