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Parents in east get smaller benefit cheques

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Parents in east get smaller benefit cheques
Photo: DPA
11:15 CET+01:00
The amount of parental leave benefits doled out for moms and dads in the formerly communist eastern German states is significantly lower than the national average, the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) reported on Wednesday.

On average, the state paid out €970 for fathers and €590 for mothers taking time off each month, but amount of parental allowance in eastern states was “markedly below the relevant federal average,” Destatis said in a statement.

For parents living in the economically depressed eastern states – excluding the city-state of Berlin – the monthly entitlement for children born in 2007 was €795 for men and €566 for women.

Meanwhile the study observed above average benefits for parents in wealthier southern Germany, as well as in the state of Hesse and the city-state of Hamburg.

“The differences in amounts of parental allowance reflect not only the individual decisions to make use of parental allowance but also, among other things, differences in labour force participation and income levels of the parents,” Destatis said.

Differences were most pronounced between fathers in the east and west, with western fathers cashing in almost €200 more each month. For mothers the differences between were considerably smaller at about €30.

This June, the Family Ministry reported that nearly a fifth of new German fathers have applied for parental leave benefits allowing them to stay at home on two-thirds of their pay for a year, calling it a "revolution" on the home front.

The measure to provide parental leave benefits was part of efforts by Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right coalition government to raise the national birthrate, which is one of the lowest in Europe along with Italy and Spain.

Germany's birthrate increased slightly to 1.4 children per woman last year, according to the Family Ministry, to reach its highest level in 17 years. Merkel has pinpointed the shrinking population as one of the country's most pressing problems and pledged to make it easier for parents to combine a career and having children.

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