Germany: Large families with middle incomes are increasingly in existential distress

In all family households, the poverty rate increases with the number of children living in the household – and they are affected more frequently than comparable households without children. “The rising costs in almost all areas develop into a major nightmare for large families,” says Dr. Elisabeth Müller, Federal Chairwoman of the German Association of Large Families (KRFD e.V.). Inflation and geopolitical effects due to the war no longer only affect families with low household incomes, but also increasingly middle-class large families. “Families who previously received no (supplementary) social benefits and are thus excluded from the education and participation package are now threatened in their existence,” Müller observes with concern.

Families whose income exceeds the calculation limits for supplementary social benefits often have only little more, but pay for everything themselves (e.g. public transport, community meals, school trips, etc.). Parents are looking from week to week to see how they can pay their bills. “It now goes to their preserves,” Müller says. Families have to deal with steadily increasing prices for food and hygiene products, extremely high fuel prices, and expected back energy payments in the three- to four-digit range. In addition, there are massive price increases for school lunches as well as expenses for class trips and postponed hiking days made up by Corona. All in all, these spendings catapult the families into particularly challenging life situations. “Therefore, large families who are in existential emergency situations must be relieved promptly and noticeably”, demands the Federal Chairwoman. “Families need encouragement and certainty. It must be the task of politics to counter fears about the future and to protect and support the “foundation” of the family in times of crisis,” Müller demands.

Five recommendations for action to relieve the burden on large families in the short term:

  • A first step which would help particularly those who have to buy a lot of food would be a temporally limited lowering of the value added tax on food from seven to two per cent.
  • The energy money bonus should be repeated in 2023. Possibly, an increase of it has to be discussed as well.
  • We suggest a nationwide continuation of the 9-Euro ticket for all children required to attend school, because public transportation expenses can put a disproportionate monthly strain on large families’ wallets. At the same time, the next generation would be sensitized to ecologically sustainable mobility routes, fuel would be saved, and parents’ time budgets would be relieved due to eliminated travel distances (“parent’s cab”).
  • In the case of high energy back payments, it must be possible to submit applications either to the Federal Foundation Family in Need or its state foundations or via the social welfare office in a pragmatic manner (and not just as individual case decisions).
  • By means of subsidized family education trips and exchange opportunities (e.g., at family congresses) as well as a nationwide standardized large family card (Mehrkindfamilienkarte), as our association has already established in Thuringia, families with three or more children are granted equal opportunities and access to the educational, cultural and leisure sectors.

Facts about the risk of poverty among children with many children:

  • About every fifth child in Germany experiences poverty.
  • There is too little money available for healthy food, education, hobbies and vacations.
  • Child poverty also means cramped living conditions and often stigmatization.
  • Child wealth is often associated with poverty risk.
  • There are approximately 1.4 million families with three or more children. More than one in three children grows up in a multi-child family. More than 700,000 children from families with many children are considered poor (cf. Bertelsmann Foundation).
  • Measured by the net equivalent income, families with many children are twice as likely to be at risk of poverty as families with fewer than three children (cf. BiB 2019). For two-parent-families, the at-risk-of-poverty rate according to social benefits is ca. 31 percent (cf. Federal Statistical Office 2019).
  • Families with many children from lower educational class are particularly at risk of poverty. In all educational classes, the net equivalent income decreases as the number of children increases. This difference is particularly large in high educational classes.

Leave a Comment