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Fewer Germans find children worthwhile
Photo: DPA

Fewer Germans find children worthwhile

Published: 17 Dec 2012 13:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Dec 2012 14:10 GMT+01:00

Germany's birth rate has been low for years, but a new study released on Monday revealed the country is becoming a less attractive place to have children due to difficulties balancing family with work.

Researchers from the Federal Institute for Population Research found around a quarter of German women born between 1964 and 1968 do not have children primarily because of an apparent incompatibility with having a career.

Seen by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the study found that Germany's long-held cultural idea of a “good mother,” in which women stay at home to raise their children, was still so present in the country's collective psyche that working women were opting not to have children.

There are just ten countries in Europe which have a lower birth rate than Germany, which currently stands at 1.39 children per woman. Iceland leads the way with 2.20 and Latvia was at the bottom with 1.17.

Worldwide, Germany is one of the countries with the highest number of childless women.

"This low birthrate has major social significance in the long run because it is one of the main causes of the shrinking and ageing of the population," said the authors of the study by the institute, which is part of the Interior Ministry.

In Germany, they said, "the mother belongs to her child and must not leave him or her with a carer before the age of three just because she wants to work," describing the prevailing mentality particularly in the west of the country.

"Choosing another path means to quickly become a 'raven mother' (a German expression for a bad mother) in western Germany," they said, noting a contrast

with the ex-communist east where care options for young children are more

abundant and working mothers are traditionally more accepted.

Director of the institute, Norbert Schneider, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that parents should be offered more flexible working times in order to make having children more appealing.

And from August 2013 the government will grant children under three a legal claim to a nursery place or with a child carer, although recent data showed the country was behind in its timetable.

Last week, Germany also came one step closer to implementing controversial payments to parent opting to keep their children at home instead of sending them to day care.

But, Schneider added, if the so-called Betreuungsgeld were to come into place, the country would need to work even harder to improve gender-equality and iron out old-fashioned societal ideals at the same time.

DPA/AFP/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:04 December 17, 2012 by raandy
that is too bad.

Germany is comparatively a good country to raise a family with good supporting laws for the parents.

when I read" a torrent of immigrants headed for Germany",then I wonder what the demographics will be in 20 years. One thing is for sure.,. different
15:13 December 17, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I would not have German kids either. Too badly behaved and a pain in the posterier.
15:37 December 17, 2012 by kanddi
I fail to see how this is a negative. That people are making educated decisions on whether or not they should have children? And you know, overpopulation's going to be a real joy (as if it doesn't already exist), especially in combo with climate change. I'm sure people are chomping at the bit to bring some more children into the world so they can deal with that bright future.
15:41 December 17, 2012 by LecteurX
My experience of close to 5 years (and counting) in Berlin is that Germans are mostly a very pragmatic and well-organised nation with a great ability at identifying problems and solving them...

Unfortunately, on most family issues, they have been kidding themselves for too long. There attitude recently (since my arrival here) has mostly been: promote "traditional models" (tax breaks for married couples only, "Betreuungsgeld", etc) and throw more money at the problem (and pray for a miracle). This will simply not work.

I don't know what these guys in charge are doing. This is simply wishful thinking that the Betreuungsgeld will do any good. It is an incentive to keep mothers out of the workplace, whether qualified or not, at a time of a shortage of skilled labour. Why is that??? Women want to work. Mothers want to have the choice to work or not, rather than to be forced to renounce their careers. For many of them, it may not even be a choice to keep working, with the stagnation or decrease of real wages in the recent decades.

A message for our beloved CDU/CSU politicians: if you want to see more "traditional" families with mothers staying at home to raise numerous happy blonde kids, then give people better salaries that enable them to live from and support families with, as was the case before. If you want competititiveness, low wages and swelling numbers of working poor with few expectations of a better life, then say goodbye to traditional families, and say hello to mass immigration into your "competitive" economy with a shrinking workforce. You can't have it both ways. Is it so hard to work out??
15:42 December 17, 2012 by lucksi
I'm not having kids, not because of my job or the fact that I have no wife, but because there are over 7 billion people on this planet.
16:14 December 17, 2012 by raandy
Berlin fuer alles come now, you are throwing in the towel before you even begin.

Who's going to look after you in your old age???-:)
16:26 December 17, 2012 by frankiep
I see this as a sign of the overwhelming sense of selfishness in society. Everyone lives for the moment and wants instant gratification. Kids are seen as a nuisance which prevents you from doing all of the amazing things you want to do and from buying all of the useless crap (status symbols) that is being shoved down our throats. Being successful in your career is of course important but there has to be a balance between career and family, and that means that some sacrifices have to be made. Giving up the chance to have a family in order to get that corner office is all well and good, but if that's all that matters to you then don't expect anyone to be around when you are old and invalid and lying on your deathbed.
16:53 December 17, 2012 by Bulldawg82
Someone is going to have to work in order to support your older population in the future. If you have fewer children, then they will have to shoulder a larger burden in order to provide for those now. As selfish as it is to not want children just so u can have a better standard of living (they are expensive), it is also very cruel thing to do to the children today as they will have to work harder and longer for less benefits. Not having children is a very short-sighted solution that creates more problems in your future.
18:53 December 17, 2012 by yllusion
One thing is for sure, if the germans don't produce at least enough children to replace the current population, the culture will die one day. And all the work being done by the current generation will be lost because there will be nobody to profit from it, except maybe foreigners. So it is not really that smart to argue that because the world is over populated, it is better not to have children. You will not change the birth rate in China and India by not having children and what will happen (which is already happening) is that Germany will need these people to take the jobs and bit by bit the german culture will be dilluted and lost in medium to long term. That is valid for the whole Europe.
23:33 December 17, 2012 by AClassicRed
@Frankiep and @Bulldawg82 I have absolutely no idea how people like you can choose to judge and label another person as selfish just because they don't want to have children. No, wait, yes I do: it's because they believe their own opinion is correct, better than, and more important than anyone else's. You are choosing to stereotype and generalize people you do not know, which is really only a step or two away from also being biased and discriminatory.

I've known and know a number of people, both married and single who do not wish to have children. Some feel they would not make good parents, by their own definition, so they do not. Wise. Another expressed they felt they had nothing particularly special to contribute to the gene pool, there were enough children already born who didn't have parents, so they would choose to adopt, NOT have children of their own. Another cited overpopulation in other areas of the world and again, orphaned children needing homes...so they also choose not to produce children of their own. There are those who also don't have children because they like their life the way it is: it is entirely their right to do so, and not yours or anyones to tell them what they should do or down them for their choices.

Dumbfounding sometimes how people like you cannot "think outside of the box" considering there may be other very valid, legitimate, thoughtful and wise reasons why people may choose not to have children. And incidentally, each of the people I referenced have good salaries, pay their taxes, have arranged for necessities regarding health, carers and funeral services if necessary.

The reasons you bash some of the non-children bearing adults are convenient examples which have clearly not been well thought out, but likely minimally cited from another source. Amazing how know-it-all, and self-righteous people like you are. Very disturbing in a way, but unfortunately typical.
01:05 December 18, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Without passing judgement on childless couples, let me say that having children is one of the most wonderful things that a human being can do. My children give me joy in a way that nothing else can and I couldn`t imagine living without them. Why don`t Germans have more of them? Good question. Hmm, perhaps Germany is a little bit Kinderfeindlich? Let`s go ask Eva Hermann. ;)
09:31 December 18, 2012 by delvek
Dont want to pass judgement either it just pains me to hear someone say such things as never wanting children. I have lived a pretty successful life and enjoyed much in my single and married life. In all my enjoyments nothing comes close to the joy that my 14, 12 and 2 year old bring to my wife and I. I am not saying its all roses but I will take the struggles of child rearing tripled to know whats its like to be the recipient of a childs unquestioned love. Makes me feel bad for those without.
12:04 December 18, 2012 by yllusion
@AClassicRed I tell you why there is a "scent" of selfishness in not wanting to have children or not wanting to take care of a child: that is because procreation is one of the basic responsibilities we have on this planet. You find this argument from biological and from religious point of views. We are here because we were given that opportunity by our progenitors. Therefore as human beings we have to do the same and give the opportunity of life to another person, and make sure that this person grows to be a better human being than us. That is as simple and straightforward as that. This is the least we have to do on this planet. If we have a meaningless, mediocre, empty life, at least one life we have to create and take car of, to redeem ourselves from our own failure.

Arguments such as "we are not sure if we can be good parents" is bullshit, because then that is something the couple has to learn and prepare themselves for. They are just running away from responsibility. Arguments such as "we like our lives the way it is, childless" is again related to my first paragraph, pure selfishness. For sure, people have the choice. But having the choice doesn't mean that every choice is correct.
03:58 December 19, 2012 by hanskarl
Good thing these peoples parents thought they were worthwhile..........
13:48 December 20, 2012 by canadianinberlin
hört, hört!

kanddi's post bears repeating:

quote

"I fail to see how this is a negative. That people are making educated decisions on whether or not they should have children? And you know, overpopulation's going to be a real joy (as if it doesn't already exist), especially in combo with climate change. I'm sure people are chomping at the bit to bring some more children into the world so they can deal with that bright future."

unquote

And having kids to pay for the next generation of pensioners is outdated and plain bad politics (hey people! the whole world is experiencing the same demographic relationship) and a sign of how gullible the voting population can be.
13:55 December 20, 2012 by grinners
The cost to benefit ratio of children is approx: 1:0,0007529

Which means we should not have any more kids.
11:37 December 22, 2012 by herr x
germans are really retarded--i mean every other country has it figured out. its like with smoking here, its so 1950's.

everywhere else its 2012, in germany--especially with regard to the mother/work dilemma and smoking--its 1958.

maybe its good they keep smoking and have no offspring and die out. there will be fewer cool cars on the market, but hey--a small price to pay, i would argue...
17:08 January 15, 2013 by JulianaBach
You are all a bunch of whiners. GERMANY is an awesome place to raise a child. The culture, the superb education,the amazing healtcare, childcare itself all the system support young people to become parents. These statistics are sad, no doubt. I feel most of you have not had a chance to research other countries. In America for instance, pregnant women have to return to work just after 6 weeks of giving birth and heathcare is super expensive. Do your reseach before you post negative things about this wonderful country please. And...have lots of babies here, your children will grow up in a smart, successful and exciting society.
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