How families live in Germany

Why many Germans do not become parents until late in life, and how families are supported by the state. 

Familien in Deutschland
dpa

Germany. A married couple with one or two children – that is the average German family. But family models are becoming more diverse. There is a high proportion of single parents, patchwork families with children from the parents' previous partnerships, and rainbow families with same-sex couples. On the other hand, large families with several generations under one roof have become rare.

Starting a family late

Many young academics in particular put off starting a family – they first want to complete their university studies and then start a career. As a result, on average mothers are already almost 30 and fathers 35 years old when their first child is born. This is also a reason for the small average number of children per family.

How the State promotes families

Germany needs more children; it is the country with the oldest population after Japan. Although, at 1.5 children per woman, the birth rate is at the highest level since reunification, it is still lower than the EU average of 1.58.

This is why there are a large number of state aids aimed at promoting families. The most important are child allowance, parental allowance, tax incentives, and subsidies for pregnant women and families whose income is too low to meet their children's basic needs. School education is free.

Despite such support, single parents are among the population groups with the highest risk of poverty if the other parent refuses to pay maintenance for his or her child.

Quick facts
8.1
million

families have children under the age of 18.

13
million

children currently live in Germany.

20
percent

is the proportion of single parents.

35
percent

of children have unmarried parents.

1,5
children per woman:

Germany's highest birth rate since reunification.

30

is the average age of women at the birth of their first child

35

is the average age of men at the birth of their first child.

25
percent

of children in Germany grow up as an only child.

70
percent

of mothers go out to work.

33
percent

of children under the age of three are looked after in kindergartens.

Parents between family and job

Children or career? Policy-makers have been trying to make it easier for women and men to reconcile the two. Since 2013, every child has had a legal right to a kindergarten place from their first year. Germany's federal states have invested heavily in the expansion of childcare for infants and school children.

Since 2007, mothers and fathers have been able to take a paid break from work. The state pays a parental allowance amounting to 65% of net income for a total of 14 months.

Role models

Father earns the money, mother stays at home with the children – this role model is regarded as outdated, but it still exists. Although 70 percent of mothers go out to work, 40 percent work only part-time. A change is emerging: the generation of young fathers would like to spend more time with their children and be more involved in their upbringing. Currently, as many as one in three fathers takes advantage of the parental allowance for two to three months.

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