A comment on the study by the Federal Institute for Population Growth “(Not) interested in children?”: Flexibility has its limits


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While numerous EU countries are experiencing a renewed rise in the birth rate, Germany remains one of the “baby blues” taillights in global comparison with one of the highest proportions of permanently childless women. In any case, the Federal Institute for Population Research draws this balance in its study on the decline in births, which caused considerable media coverage. What are the reasons?

A commentary on the study by the Federal Institute for Population Growth


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Marie-Luise Mähler 70Marie-Luise Mähler worked for MTV, for example, or at the press conference of the German Embassy in Brussels.

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Educational level is often crucial for family planning

In addition to the general tendency towards social separation, the level of educational attainment and occupational breaches in the social economy are becoming increasingly important Curriculum vitae as well as personal claims to the parent role as decisive influencing factors for or against a family planning called.

For example, low-qualified people often have several children and live in a stable relationship, while highly qualified persons are much more likely to live childless in single households. The lower the professional qualification, the more likely a firm partnership with several children.

Job more meaningful than children?

From this, one can conclude on the one hand that personal search for meaning only then focuses on the family, if alternative possibilities of unfolding such as in a continuously growing career are missing.

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On the other hand, however, it also becomes clear that state subsidies can offer significant support to those who are disabled by social advancement and can strongly favor the decision for a child.

There are financial incentives

Thus the state pays mothers in child rearing periods up to 36 months pension contributions, which in this period are no longer measured by personal wages, but rather by the nationwide merit average. The low-income earners in particular benefit from this.

If both partners work full-time, they remain childless for more than 46%, the study notes. There seems to be no incentive to temporarily (temporarily) leave the profession for the benefit of a child.

Concern for future career as a hurdle?

Professional activity - especially in full-time - seems either necessary to ensure survival, or couples are not willing to forego the amenities of the double full-time salary.

However, care for the future of the profession could be a hurdle. In any case, the prospect of a child does not seem to be as attractive to many full-time employees as to continue working full-time.

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The earnings shears gap apart

The Institute for Economic Research in Halle (IWH) reports in June 2012 that the salaries per employee have declined or stagnated in the last ten years.

According to the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, wages - even for part-time and marginal employees - are said to have increased in the meantime, but this report also confirms a further widening of the “gap in earnings”.

Fear of the growing costs?

This is another main cause of the (no-) child dilemma: children are spending more money with increasing age.

What to do if a (limited-term) employment relationship does not take into account the fact that the salary increases in the foreseeable future? And if so, what price?

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