The rising prices as a result of the war in Ukraine and the corona pandemic are hitting families in Germany hard - and the lower the income, the greater the burden. In December 2022, 70 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 stated that they were personally affected by inflation. This emerges from the family barometer that Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) presented on Monday in Berlin. At that time, 47 percent felt that inflation was severely restricting their everyday lives.
According to the family barometer, for example, low-income single parents have to spend more than 7 percent of their household income on inflation-related price increases. In comparison, for couples with children who are in the upper income quartile, the additional burden accounts for 4.5 percent of their income.
The family barometer analyzes the mood and desires of parents in Germany. According to the Ministry for Family Affairs, this should result in three fields of action: "Increase financial security for families", "Further develop childcare according to needs" and "Increase time autonomy in challenging family phases".
Basic child security still uncertain
Specifically, Paus wants to invest in a reliable and good childcare infrastructure and continue to pursue basic child security. "These are the points where the shoe pinches the most for families," said the Green politician. With the basic child security, the traffic light coalition wants to bundle services from child benefit and child allowance to financial support for school trips in a basic child security and to reach more beneficiaries with the services in the future. Whether that should also mean a multi-billion dollar financial increase is disputed, especially between the Greens and the FDP. Paus had registered a need of twelve billion euros.
With regard to a partnership-based distribution of roles, the family barometer shows that there are still challenges for families. Almost half (46 percent) of parents would like childcare, household and work to be shared between partners, but time and again the implementation fails.
Many men do not take parental leave
"Mothers primarily do the tasks of childcare and housework," said the managing director of the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion, Renate Köcher. "But only a fifth of parents say that's their ideal." When fathers have taken parental leave, childcare is then divided up better.
But even there there is a need to catch up. Around 70 percent of the fathers surveyed who took parental leave emphasize that they have witnessed important developmental steps in their child and have developed a closer bond with their child. However, many men do not take parental leave because they are worried about their job. 53 percent of the fathers surveyed who did not take parental leave stated that the main reason was loss of income. 38 percent feared professional disadvantages. Only 6 percent of fathers who took parental leave ultimately confirmed their fears of career losses.
New claim to help fathers
"Parents want a more partnership-based division, but they can't realize that so well in everyday life and fall back into old patterns," said Paus. The gap between desire and reality is large in many families.
Among other things, a parental start time, also known as paternity leave, is intended to remedy this. According to the draft law of the Ministry of Family Affairs, partners should in future be able to take paid leave for two weeks after the birth of a child without having to take vacation or parental leave as has been the case up to now. The innovation would affect the second parent, i.e. in most cases the fathers - since mothers are paid paid leave for a certain period of time after childbirth anyway.
The joint partner time after the birth should be a protective and sanctuary, said Paus. The draft law for this is ready and the parental start time should come in January 2024. This is anchored in the coalition agreement. With the project, Germany is also implementing a corresponding EU directive.