A study commissioned by the German government has reached a damning verdict on the country’s efforts to boost its low birth rate, saying billions of euros are being wasted on complex benefits and tax breaks that are largely ineffective and in some cases counterproductive.
Europe’s largest economy spends some €200 billion ($270 billion) on promoting children and families per year — that’s almost two-thirds of the federal budget. But its birth rate, at 1.39 births per woman aged 15 to 49, remains among the lowest in Europe and compares with an Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 1.74.
The number of births in Germany has fallen to a record low. It was just 663,000 in 2011, 72,000 fewer than a decade earlier.
The German government ordered a detailed cost-benefit study of its family policies five years ago. The panel of experts led by Basel-based consultancy Prognos has completed a 66-page interim report that SPIEGEL has seen.