If a Conservative party uses the term “family” in its mouth, voters can trust it: the election platform is pouring out a cornucopia of sweet word creations. They are supposed to want to take special care of parents with children. During the 2021 election campaign, the largest ruling party, the CDU / CSU, chose Germany as the “country of the family”. Real life lags behind this rhetoric. Parents and their children are ignored and disadvantaged – before and after the federal election.
Economists do the math: those who raise their children have less available money than others. Ten to 40 percent less than the average for single parents and couples with young children. This is not surprising, because parents can often work less than people without children, and some also want to. However, the financial gap for people without children would be smaller if politicians seriously supported parents. With truly comprehensive care offers for daughters and sons. And with real tax breaks and grants instead of a small child allowance.
Couples without children accumulate twice as much wealth as families
The German idea of promoting families, however, came to a halt in the 1950s, when women mostly stayed at home and marriage mostly meant children. Today, however, marriage is often not synonymous with children. Spousal splitting invariably offers the biggest tax benefit if the woman stays at home, although most of them want to work today whether or not someone has children. This family refusal is one of the reasons why couples without children amass more than twice as much wealth as couples with children.
Parents have lived their priority in the pandemic. Some federal states have opened hardware stores in front of schools. And hardly any education minister has encouraged teachers to teach video a few hours a day – something even cheap private schools can do. One in two mothers did their work in the evening or on weekends to take care of the children. The reward for these efforts was a small bonus for children, which did not prevent one in three low-income families from running out of money. One in five of them skipped meals in Germany in 2020.
Open detailed view
Some families were particularly concerned during the pandemic. However, they hardly play a role in some election manifestos.
(Photo: Madhourse via www.imago-images.de/imago images / Panthermedia)
Some voters may wonder what the parties are planning for families after this pandemic experience. There are differences, as calculated by the Center for European Economic Research. The SPD, the Greens and the Left plan to help poor parents with basic family allowances. In general, they want to improve the employment of the low-paid and middle class, most of whom are parents.
At the CDU / CSU, the self-proclaimed goal of “family land” includes relieving businesses and high incomes far more after the election than the majority – and therefore most parents. In addition, the Union wants to stick to the splitting up of spouses, which favors marriages, whether or not there are children. And it penalizes mothers financially when they return to work. The Union sends a fatal signal to parents – and to all men and women who wonder if they want to become one.
Children are important to this society
It would be fair to allow parents to experience more social justice. There is something else at stake. Contrary to what some citizens think they know, children are not just a nice private matter. Financial security for old age, illness and the need for care in the Federal Republic is essentially based on the birth of children. The pension, for example, is primarily designed as a pay-as-you-go system. Employees and companies pay contributions on which the pensions of current retirees are paid. If no new employee is born, no pension is paid – or much less. And companies lack skilled labor.
Far fewer children have been born in Germany in recent decades than it would take to meet the need for a skilled workforce or to finance a growing number of retirees. It is high time to take countermeasures with tax breaks and childcare offers for families. As in France, where a corresponding policy had consequences: the neighboring country experienced a birth rate 50% higher than the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1990s and 2000s.