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Be brave! Anyone who wants children but is still hesitant can find plenty of role models at the moment. Pregnant princesses like Mette-Marit in Norway are no longer the only ones who encourage people to imitate them; from Madonna to Verona Feldbusch, many prominent women are celebrating their pregnancies in public. Nevertheless, many young couples lack the courage to have a child, and their wish for a baby often remains unfulfilled for many reasons. Scientists complain about child hostility in Germany and increasing infertility.
Maternity dresses are getting tighter and tighter, pregnant women are hiding less and less. The so-called Golf generation, just over 30, is allegedly increasingly taking a liking to the start-up project family after the bursting of many career dreams in the Internet business. And on TV, there is a baby series boom with ‘Wir machen ein Baby’ (SAT.1), ‘Schnulleralarm’ (RTL II), ‘Mein Baby’ (RTL) and ‘Hallo Baby! (Vox). Celebrities show how it’s done: Having children is the trend
Most People Want To Have Children
says Hans Bertram, chairman of the commission of experts appointed by the German government to draw up the next family report. But reconciling education and career with children is far more difficult for women in Germany today than in other EU countries such as Great Britain or France, he says. “Female academics,” notes the professor from Berlin’s Humboldt University, “today, for example, need an average of five to seven years after graduation to establish themselves professionally.”
Most want a secure job and a secure partnership before having children – often hardly fulfilling demands, as family expert Walter Bien of the German Youth Institute in Munich says: “Children have gained in value in people’s eyes, yet there are fewer.” That’s because fertility decreases among women and men as they wait.
Childlessness Can Also Be Unwanted
According to the magazine ‘Geo’ (August issue), every sixth couple remains involuntarily childless. 46.000 couples sought medical help for this in Germany in 2001. The biological clock is also ticking for men – there is even talk of a “sperm crisis”.
The downward spiral in childbearing in Germany is turning, albeit slowly. Overall, around 80 percent of all women still have children. But births in Germany are not enough to stop a decline in the population and an increase in the average age. According to the Federal Statistical Office, today’s annual birth rate of 730,000 will fall to around 560,000 in 2050. Half of the population will then be older than 48. Even today, around 40 percent of female academics remain childless.
“Family Has A Future” – But Little Support
Marriage and a normal family are still very popular – the label of the “singles society” has never been appropriate. Around four-fifths of women and men marry – and the proportion has fluctuated only slightly for decades, according to Bien.
In this respect, Federal Family Minister Renate Schmidt (SPD) is right when she affirms: “Family is alive and has a future.” But there is a lack of family-friendliness and, above all, child-friendliness in society and companies. A study by the non-profit Hertie Foundation found that many companies are far less family-friendly than possible. For example, offers for parents – even if they hardly cost companies anything – are scarce, such as the provision of child minders.
Children Still Pose A Risk Of Poverty
According to a study by the University of Giessen, children are still one of the reasons why mothers or entire families fall into poverty in Germany. It is the little ones and their development that suffer the most.
“A woman’s own income is the best guarantee that children will not sink into poverty,” says expert Bertram. However, the conditions for this are not the best: According to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, 54 percent of all mothers of small children were employed in 2000. But only 5.5 percent of West German children under the age of three had a place in a daycare or after-school program. Young mothers in particular often come under enormous pressure when they have to or want to earn money on the side. Among these women, there are probably more courageous role models than among famous and wealthy mothers like Madonna.