Saturday, April 28

Paying women to stay at home

Germany is discussing the ‘Herdprämie.’ The currently ruling party wants to fulfil part of their original coalition contract and finally get a law called ‘Herdprämie’ through parliament. The crux? A lot of people think that law is an awfully bad idea.

The principle is to pay women money, if they are mothers and stay at home to take care of their children, instead of having a job. The problem with it? The amount of money and the basic idea.

The ‘Herdprämie’ is supposed to be 150 Euros a month. For a woman who can stay at home, because her husband earns good money, that’s not much. For a woman who can’t stay at home, because she has no husband or the husband doesn’t earn well, that’s not enough.

Then there’s the basic idea that, instead of creating a sufficient number kindergarten spots to accommodate all the children that need one, you just make sure less women work (and thus will possibly be poor in old age). And, as some people pointed out, it’s most likely those kids which should go to kindergarten (because they come from families that don’t speak German and should learn the language before starting school) will stay at home.

The much better idea would be to make sure women can work, even with small children, if they want to or even have to. That means granting more than four hours of kindergarten for children (yes, all children in Germany technically have the right to four hours of kindergarten five days a week) and creating more places for small children (under the age of 3, which is earliest starting age for kindergarten here) and for younger school children, who can’t stay home alone in the afternoon. You see, in Germany, schools have for a very long time mostly covered the time from 8 am to 1 pm, everything afterwards has been left to the organisational talent of the parents (and the existence of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or other relatives or friends). Germany isn’t a place where women can combine children and career (or at least children and full-time work) easily.

Instead of spending millions of Euros on the ‘Herdprämie,’ a full-fledged change in school and kindergarten might be a brilliant idea. Too bad politicians don’t see it that way.