Germany suffering from a huge shortage of childcare places

Germany suffering from a huge shortage of childcare places

A new study has revealed the extent of the shortage of childcare availability in Germany’s federal states.

Study reveals childcare shortage in Germany

A study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research has revealed that there is a shortage of around 645.000 all-day childcare spots for children in primary school. The researchers compared the demand for all-day childcare places with the number of childcare spaces occupied in all-day elementary schools and after-school centres in the 2018 / 19 school year. Accordingly, every other child was enrolled in a care programme, however, 73 percent of families were in demand for a care spot.

The study found that there is a large disparity between states, particularly between those in the east and those in the west. For example, in Hamburg, 90 percent of children attend an all-day educational programme, whilst, in Baden-Württemberg, this only applies to 22 percent of children. In fact, children in eastern Germany attend childcare a lot more than in the west.

According to the researchers, one reason for the different levels of childcare in different states is due to family image. For example, in eastern Germany, both parents are usually expected to work full-time, or at least long working hours.

The need for childcare

The researchers found that childcare was more in demand in places where people need to work more. "In cities like Munich, Hamburg or Cologne, both partners often want or have to work many hours a week because many jobs are attractive and the cost of living is high," says Axel Plünnecke, co-author of the study. Hamburg reacted to this development by expanding its all-day care opportunities.

In some regions, parents are being driven to work due to fears of economic instability. "Digitisation is likely to lead to professions and the world of work changing significantly, and qualifications may be devalued," said Plünnecke. “If the previous main breadwinner loses their job or is no longer able to work for health reasons, the risk of poverty increases." Couples have also become more dependent on a second salary during the coronavirus crisis, as jobs all over Germany were threatened.

However, parents’ duty of care frequently comes in the way of work, and one parent is often left with the responsibility of looking after the children, while the other one works full-time. "Better institutional care and a more even division of tasks with the fathers could relieve the women," says Plünnecke. Unfortunately, the expansion of childcare facilities is going extremely slowly in some states, and there is currently a shortage of 120.000 childcare spaces in Bavaria, 118.000 in Baden-Württemberg, and around 140.000 in Lower Saxony.

Just a few weeks ago, the federal government passed a law guaranteeing at least eight hours of daily care for every elementary school kid from the summer of 2026.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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