Family Report 2020: Families in Germany are living the good life
Families in Germany continue to be very satisfied with their lives - a development that the federal government is supporting with a number of family-friendly policies. According to the latest “Family Report”, state spending on families has increased by almost 40 billion euros since 2009.
New data on families in Germany
Germany’s annual Family Report has just been published, and demonstrates that a number of trends begun in previous years are continuing to develop positively: family continues to be important to most people; people are continuing to get married and stay married for longer; more fathers take an active role in childcare; and state spending on families is increasing.
Published every year, the Family Report gives detailed information about families living in Germany, including the latest figures and data on types of families, births, marriages and divorces, as well as the economic situation of families.
“For most people, family is the most important area of life,” summarised Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey. “It can give love, support and security.” She pointed out that families had had special challenges to master during the coronavirus pandemic, which forced everyone to make changes to the way they juggled their work and family lives.
Nonetheless, the majority of people in Germany seem to derive pleasure from the time they invest in their families. According to EU data, 94 percent of Germans are “happy” with their family life - putting them on a similar level to families in the Netherlands or the UK. Within the EU, only the Italians and Danes are happier with their family lives. The report found that the majority of families in Germany feel that their economic situation is good or even very good.
Government spending on families has increased significantly
And satisfied they certainly should be - because the federal government continues to invest heavily in Germany’s families. Back in 2009, the state spent approximately 87 billion euros on selected family benefits; last year, this rose to over 126 billion euros.
One of the biggest spending increases was on the parental allowance (Elterngeld). In 2009 this benefit cost the government around 4,5 billion euros; last year, it was just under 7 billion. Expenditure on childcare, child benefits and tax exemptions have also increased significantly.
State benefits such as these have allowed more and more families to strike a good work-life balance. According to the report, more and more fathers are becoming actively involved in childcare. In 2008, one year after the introduction of the parental allowance, every fifth eligible father (21 percent) made use of it.
The proportion has continued to rise steadily, so that last year every second eligible father took time off work to help look after their children. In the majority of couple families (65 percent), both parents were working in 2018. Since the expansion of daycare facilities and the introduction of the parental allowance, the employment of mothers has risen steadily.
450.000 couples got married in Germany in 2018
The report also collected data on the makeup of families in Germany. Accordingly, the most common type of family in Germany is still one in which the parents are married, but the proportion has fallen slightly (70 percent in 2018 compared to 73 percent in 2008). There are now more partnerships and single parents.
There were around 450.000 weddings in 2018, seven percent of which involved same-sex couples. 148.000 couples got divorced in 2018, but the trend to longer marriages continues, according to the report. The average duration of a marriage in 1990 was 11,5 years, compared to 14 years and nine months in 2018.