Monday, February 11, 2013


The problem child (Der Spiegel 6,2013)
A study commissioned by the German government reached a damning verdict on the country's efforts to boost its low birth rate.I says billions of euros are being wasted on complex benefits and tax breaks that are largely ineffective and in some cases even counterproductive. Fact is that Germany has the one but lowest birthrate in Europe with 1.36 births per 1000 people in a year only beaten by Portugal with a rate of 1.32. Compare this to France's 1.99 exe quo with the States and to an impressive 2.96 for Israel trying to keep up with the birthrate of the Palestinians. The government tried to keep the commission's report under the hood until after the federal election in fall but Der Spiegel published from it risking that until September 22, German family policy will degrade into family politics.

The result of the study is dynamite in an election year particularly since against strong opposition the Merkel administration recently pushed through the Kinderbetreungsgeld (child care allowance) also called Herdpr√§mie (hearth award) attributing €100 per month to women who stay at home looking after their children. According to the report this recent added benefit meant to boost procreation is counterproductive. Rather than looking for work some women will just take the money. It means they are not only lost as taxpayers but they also are an additional charge to the federal budget with €2 billion yearly. The "hearth award" comes on top of a "child supplement," "parental benefit," an "allowance for single parents," a "married person's supplement," a "sibling bonus," "orphan money" and "child education supplement," not to forget the "child education supplementary supplement" as Der Spiegel enumerates. All this costs the taxpayer a total of €200 billion per year.

In discussing Germany's birthrate the report of the commission calls the efforts of all governments over the last 50 years to boost procreation a lost cause. Up to now even Social Democrats have put their money on the traditional family with father earning and mother staying at home looking after hopefully many children. All the "experts" did not consider that an increasing number of women is moving into traditional male professions making careers, thus having no time for babies when young. In Germany there are now more women leaving university with a degree than men. If at all, women now are birthing late, remain with only one child, and frequently are single parent. The latter fact excludes these mothers from many present benefits tailored to traditional families. The commission therefore recommends to extend massively the facilities for day-care, pre-, and all-day schooling, three domains where Germany terribly lacks behind in comparison with its European neighbours.

Local experience in rural areas has shown that such measures will help increasing birthrates but for many the change in paradigm still is unacceptable. The Christian Democrat Family Minister Kristina Schr√∂der, 35, mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old child, defended the traditional values demanding: "The most important thing is to adapt working life more to the needs of families instead of going on requiring families to keep on adapting to the requirements of the working world." In fact, what she is asking for some enterprises particularly those in need of a female workforce already implemented locally. These examples only show that government money should be used differently, i.e., stimulating birthrates rather than supporting traditional family values. Fact is what Social Democrat Manuela Schwesig said: "The government's policy on families is shaped by a picture of the family that is half a century old. Single parents or couples with children but without a marriage certificate are virtually ignored."

Here we go again: Couples living together and having babies without license are devilish for those defending the traditional marriage.


  1. For years I kept wondering: US social policy provides hardly any benefits; on the contrary, it is very expensive to have children with Kindergarten and especially college costing a lot. Yet the US birthrate is 50% higher than Germany; so Americans choosing parenthood must be pretty stupid by German standards? Or are Germans stupid by foregoing all the government subsidies for parenthood?

    1. No one is stupid but every country is living to their way of life. The US are more traditional still following Moses 1:28 to a large extent: Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it, whereas Germany has become an atheistic country with just 17% practicing their faith. Even with lots of subsidies raising children in a materialistic world is stress for good-willing parents everywhere.

    2. I beg to differ with regard to alleged atheism in Germany. The recently revealed perpetrations of abuse and the coverup misdemeanors of high official representatives of the Roman Church, and to a much lesser degree the Protestant church, plus the unbearable self-righteousness of the former quite naturally makes for an intensified scepticism about religion and disenchantment with Church officials among formerly faithful church members. - I am with you regarding the growing materialism and commercialization of the life of society by the pervasive, obtrusive ubiquity of advertising, and by the excessive importance of commercial considerations involved in political decision making. - Scepticism is the result, not necessarily atheism...
      Incidentally - hello from a classmate!

    3. Hi classmate,
      I agree that atheism is possibly the wrong word in this case for true atheism is hard to "practice". I shall soon come back to this topic having just finished an interesting book called "The Wicked Company". I am still digesting!