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Betreuungsgeld: Long-Term Loss for Short-Term Gain?

July 29, 2013

From 1st August, parents living in Berlin will be entitled to claim ‘Betreuungsgeld’. This child care allowance, not to be confused with child benefit (Kindergeld) will be paid to all parents earning under a certain income threshold with children under 3 who don’t attend publicly-funded childcare and amounts to 100 Euro per month.

Germany is extremely generous when it comes to encouraging its citizens to procreate. Mothers are offered 14 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay, followed by up to one year on 65-67% of the previous year’s earnings, with couples eligible for a total of 14 months’ parental leave, split however suits.  On their return to work, mums can extend their parental leave to work part time and are thus protected from dismissal up until the 3rd year of their child’s life, if they do the paperwork right. Add to that 184 Euro per month child benefit and it’s obvious that the government wants you to make babies. So why is this extra cash being chucked at parents? ….

Many opponents of Betreuungsgeld have called it a ‘Herdprämie’ (literally a stove/cooker incentive), keeping more parents at home and away from the workplace. The likelihood of the stay-at-home parent being the mother is very high: Only 16% of mothers in Germany work full time, compared with 90% of fathers. 26% of mums go back to work full or part time on or before their child’s first birthday, this number increasing exponentially with the age of their child. (Source here)

This clearly has a knock-on effect on the number of women in the workforce, their level of pay, future prospects and of course pension. Worrying.

Then there’s the child… There are proven advantages and disadvantages of early socialisation for small children.  However, the children that are generally most likely to be disadvantaged by being cared for at home for a longer period are those whose parents have a low education and income level. Also worrying.

In spite of the criticism, it’s pretty clear what the government is doing here:  Another big family-policy milestone in August is that children under 3 years of age will be entitled by law to a place in publicly-funded childcare. I, with my limited knowledge of how the world works can only guess that this will bring with it a few problems such as rubbish childcare institutions springing up like mushrooms and people suing the local government left, right and centre. Politics is a tricky old business, as we’re well aware and by bribing encouraging parents to stay at home (or to use private childcare, or extended family for that matter), the coalition is attempting to cover it’s ass while it gets its act together.

Valiant attempt but no biscuit.


If you think you might be eligible for Betreuungsgeld, here’s an article I wrote for Berlin For All The Family that might be useful!

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 1, 2013 00:30

    Interesting. I heard initially that it was to be 300 Euros. Is 100 Euro a month really enough to encourage parents to stay home? It’s more of a token bonus to those who already plan to I think. I recently heard that although there is a very high proportion of Berlin little ones in Kita in the more affluent areas it is the kids in the disadvantaged areas that are likely to still be at home until school age despite the very low cost of day care for low income families. I was surprised to hear this, assuming that due to the low cost, most parents would make use of the Kita system.
    Ironically for me, the Betreuungsgeld comes into place on the very day that my 2 year old (and by local terms late Kita starter) has his first day!

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