Category / Family / Society

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  • Großvater trägt Enkelin auf dem Arm

    Grandchild care

    Grandparents play an important role in the everyday life of many young families: They play with their grandchildren, take them to the doctor, and help with homework. A recent study using data from “Living in Germany” shows that this has not changed even after the increase in the number of daycare spots.

    According to the study, while 9 out of 10 preschool-aged children in Germany are enrolled in daycare, grandparents provide additional care for one in two children under the age of 6. And grandparents care for between 20 and 40 percent of all girls and boys under the age of 10 on a regular basis.

    When grandparents help with childcare, it’s mothers who benefit most: They feel much more satisfied with their childcare situation and with their free time. “And that in turn has a positive effect on the children,” says Katharina Spieß, director of the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), which led the study.


    Further information

    Süddeutsche Zeitung: Nicht ohne Oma und Opa

    DIW Berlin: Großeltern bleiben trotz Kita-Ausbaus wichtig für Kinderbetreuung

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

  • two women put food in bags

    Making a Difference Through Volunteer Work

    Many organizations and initiatives depend on volunteers –  from sports clubs to volunteer fire departments to refugee aid projects. According to the results of a new study based on data from Living in Germany, currently around one in three people in Germany is involved in volunteer work, and the percentage is rising. People in rural areas are especially active in volunteer activities.

     Volunteerism is higher in more prosperous regions, where the level of education is high and unemployment is low. “In structurally weak rural regions, on the other hand, efforts need to be made to catch up,” says SOEP researcher Luise Burkhardt, who conducted the study together with a colleague at the Thünen Institute. In these regions, migration and population aging as well as a lack of digital infrastructure make it difficult for people to pursue volunteer activities.

    It is striking that volunteerism is more common among men than women. he researchers suspect that the reason could be a persistence of traditional gender roles in rural areas, where women are often still more involved in childcare and housework.

    Further information

    Ehrenamtliche in sehr ländlichen Gegenden besonders engagiert – Männer aktiver als Frauen

    All results in the overview

    Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

  • Mother greets her child

    Most mothers want to work

    Mothers in Germany would like to work more than they are currently able to in many cases. This is among the key findings of a study conducted by economist Wido Geis-Thöne at the German Economic Institute (IW) based on data from “Living in Germany.”

    According to the study, one in four mothers between the ages of 25 and 54 was not currently working. But only 12 percent of these mothers said that this was what they wanted.

    Mothers with small children under the age of three have a particularly hard time pursuing their career goals: Almost 69 percent of these mothers were not employed, but only 27 percent of them said this was what they wanted.

    Why is this the case? “Mothers with children often have more limited job search options. Long commutes are impossible for them, meaning that they have a harder time finding a suitable job,” says Geis-Thöne. Or, he hypothesizes, “they want to work more hours but are only available to work at times that don’t suit the employer.”

    Further information

    Süddeutsche Zeitung: Warum viele Mütter nicht arbeiten – obwohl sie wollen

    Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft: Mütter haben unterschiedliche Erwerbswünsche und erwerbsbezogene Normen

    All results in the overview

    Sai De Silva on Unsplash

  • Woman with toddler

    Parental leave increases children’s well-being over the long term

    In early May 1986, the East German government introduced a policy reform that some people are still benefiting from today. Both mothers and fathers were allowed to take twelve months of paid parental leave from the date of their child’s birth. Previously, most parents had to return to work when their children were five months old, which meant that the children were placed in daycare.

    According to a study by researchers at the ifo institute based on data from the study “Living in Germany”, the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties. the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties.

    Children who spent their first year of life exclusively in the care of their own parents are eight percentage points more satisfied today than those who were sent to daycare at the age of five months.

    Further information

    Business Insider Germany: Children whose parents spent longer on parental leave are happier as adults – long-term study shows

    ifo Dresden: Longer paid parental leave makes children happier later on

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

  • Educator sits in hallway of a daycare center

    Overworked and undervalued

    Pre-school educators are essential, not just for families but for society as a whole, as almost everyone would agree. Nevertheless, pre-school educators still contend with difficult working conditions.

    According to a new study based on data from “Living in Germany”, 80 percent of pre-school educators feel they are underpaid. But it’s not just this feeling that creates stress: About 75 percent also report high time pressures and a heavy workload. Many also rate their chances of promotion as poor. In addition, around 70 percent complain about a lack of recognition from their superiors.

    “During the Corona pandemic, the stresses on educators have increased even further,” says DIW education expert Katharina Spieß, who conducted the study together with her colleague Ludovica Gambaro. Given that increasing numbers of parents were able to place their children in emergency daycare over the course of the pandemic, pre-school educators were responsible for approximately the same number of children during the pandemic as they were under normal conditions. Simultaneously, educators had the added burden of following hygiene regulations. The stress was compounded by worries about their own health.

    Further information

    Around 80 percent of educators think their salary is too low

    DIW Berlin: Eight out of ten nursery school teachers in Germany feel burdened by inadequate salaries

    All results in the overview

  • sleeping woman with glasses

    How are people doing in the pandemic?

    Over the course of the Corona pandemic, people have become less satisfied overall. Leisure activities and family life are a source of frustration for many.
    The good news is that for many people, satisfaction in certain areas of life has increased during the pandemic. Many adults rate both their health and their sleep as significantly better than before.

    According to SOEP director Stefan Liebig, “When faced with the threat of the pandemic, you can disregard the little twinge in your back.” He also offers an explanation for the increase in satisfaction with sleep: “Working from home eliminates the need for long commutes to work.” These are just some of the results of an additional telephone survey of more than 12,000 “Living in Germany” respondents on the topic of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Further information

    Berliner Zeitung: Wie geht es uns in der Pandemie?

    SOEP-CoV Spotlight: Während der Corona-Pandemie sind die Menschen zunehmend unzufrieden mit der Freizeit, aber weiterhin zufrieden mit ihrem Schlaf

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

  • Boy and girl at one table

    Educated parents, healthy children

    Parental education has an effect not only on children’s education, career choices, and income, but also on children’s physical health—even decades after they have left home. These findings are the result of a study based on “Living in Germany” that was conducted by a research team in Halle. As far as children’s mental health is concerned, parental education appears to be less decisive.

    Universität Halle: Bildung der Eltern beeinflusst langfristig die Gesundheit ihrer Kinder

    All results in the overview

  • Mother sits on sofa with two toddlers

    Childcare during the pandemic: Mothers are doing more, but fathers are catching up

    After schools and daycare centers closed for lockdown, many parents had to care for their younger children and help older children with schoolwork while also working from home. A study based on data from “Living in Germany” found that during lockdown, mothers spent more time on childcare than fathers: On weekdays, mothers spent an average of 9.6 hours and fathers 5.3 hours taking care of children under the age of 11. Nevertheless, men were more involved than before the pandemic: They spent on average of 89 percent more time on childcare than in the previous year. Most parents found homeschooling tolerable, but single parents and less educated parents felt they did not receive enough support from their children’s schools. To read the study by SOEP researcher Sabine Zinn, click here.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Kinderbetreuung in Corona-Zeiten: Mütter tragen die Hauptlast, aber Väter holen auf

    All results in the overview

  • elderly woman sitting on bench

    Corona has made people lonelier

    During the pandemic, participants in “Living in Germany” felt approximately as satisfied with their lives as in previous years, and also did not suffer more from anxiety or depression. Yet loneliness increased significantly when measured in terms of the difference between desired and existing social relationships— and this was particularly the case among women and young people. Why is that? SOEP researcher and study author Theresa Entringer suspects that many young people saw their friends and acquaintances much more before the pandemic. Older people, on the other hand, are generally more focused on their spouse or partner and family and were able to maintain these social relationships during the pandemic.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Einsam, aber resilient – Die Menschen haben den Lockdown besser verkraftet als vermutet

    All results in the overview