Germany 6th most family-friendly country in Europe

Germany 6th most family-friendly country in Europe

Plenty of people relocate to Germany with the idea of starting a family, and with good reason - UNICEF has just named the federal republic as the 6th most family-friendly country in Europe.

Family-friendly policies in OECD and EU countries

UNICEF, the UN’s children’s agency, assembles an annual ranking of countries across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union, based on how family-friendly their government policies are. Factors considered are things such as the duration of full-paid parental leave and the availability of good childcare services.

Where family-friendly policies are in place, the report’s authors write, “Children get a better start in life and parents are better able to balance work and home commitments.” Well-paid, protected maternity leave allows the mother to recover from pregnancy and childbirth while maintaining her salary and position in the labour market.

Paternity leave allows the father to bond with his child and also promotes a more equal distribution of care in the home. Policies supporting breastfeeding promote the health of both mother and child. Other elements, such as child benefits or birth grants, are not considered, to allow the report to focus on the work-family balance.

Germany ranks well on family-friendliness

While the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Iceland nabbed the top three spots, Germany scored a respectable sixth place, coming in just behind Portugal and ahead of Denmark.

The federal republic scored relatively highly with its 43-week maternity leave allowance, including 16 weeks of maternity benefit. It was, however, way behind frontrunners Estonia, Hungary and Bulgaria, where new mothers can take advantage of 85, 72 or 65 weeks of full-pay maternity leave, respectively. In the United Kingdom (12 weeks), Ireland (9 weeks) and Switzerland (8 weeks), the duration of paid maternity leave was the shortest.

Germany also scored well on paternity leave, being one of only a few countries where a tenth of all available paid leave is reserved for fathers. The allowance in Germany is 5,7 weeks at full pay, although mothers and fathers can share up to 24 months of (partially) paid parental leave between them. Portugal (12,5 weeks), Sweden (10,9 weeks) and Luxembourg (10,4 weeks) offered fathers the most time off.

Only one-third of children under three in Germany are enrolled in childcare, compared with Denmark (70 percent), Iceland (65 percent) and the Netherlands (53 percent). However, the proportion of children aged between 3 and school age who are enrolled was 92 percent.

Most family-friendly countries 2019

The top 10 most family-friendly countries in 2019 were as follows, according to UNICEF’s research:

  • 1. Sweden
  • 2. Norway
  • 3. Iceland
  • 4. Estonia
  • 5. Portugal
  • 6. Germany
  • 7. Denmark
  • 8. Slovenia
  • 9. Luxembourg
  • 10. France

If you want to know more about how the scores are calculated, and to see the full ranking, visit UNICEF’s website.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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