Parlouristas, if shrinking maternity benefits in the United States defer you from having kids, embrace the idea of self-banishment and find your way to Germany.
Germany is one of the most generous countries when it comes to benefits awarded to parents. The German government offers lengthy parental leave, tax credits, and financial incentives that increase the more children you have. So why is this country so giving? Germans are on the slow path to extinction. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but in recent years Germany’s birth rate has reached a record low. The government, aware of the implications of a declining population, has decided to bribe parents into having kids with tons of goodies.
Expectant mothers are eligible for financial benefits as early as six weeks before the estimated birth. She is entitled to take off a total of 14 weeks from work and receive 100% of her salary. Eight weeks after the birth, both parents are eligible for Elterngeld (parent money). Elterngeld can be paid up to 14 months, and it is the equivalent to 67% of the applying parent’s last salary. This 14 months can be divided as desired between the two parents. You also have the flexibility to reduce your Elterngeld by 50% and collect the benefit for twice as long. That’s right, you can stretch your parent money for up to 28 months, being at home for the first two years of your child’s life and receiving a portion of your salary. You can also make an arrangement with your employer to stay home for the first three years, and if they agree your job will be protected until you return. To help offset the additional expenses of raising a child, the government awards parents with Kindergeld (child’s money). Parent’s receive 184 to 215 Euros per child and the amount increases depending on the number of children you have. This money is directly deposited into your bank account until your child is 18 years old, if your child is enrolled in university, Kindergeld is extended until he is 25.
Amidst all these benefits, Germans are still deferring parenthood or avoiding it all together. This has the government scared and projections place the German population at 62 million in the year 2060 compared to 82 million today. Germany’s population is not growing at a rate to keep the population stable, meaning more people are dying than are being born. The result of depopulation results in the shrinking number of ethic Germans, their culture and their tax base. Encouraging Germans to reproduce is not the sole solution to the population crisis. Many western country’s populations are subsidized by immigrants. In my opinion, Germany really needs foreigners to boost their population so they need to improve the foreigner experience. I might hesitate to have a child here if I think the little one will be persecuted on the school yard everyday for not looking German.
Still, as a foreigner if you have a German work permit and have contributed to the social benefit system for two years, you are entitled to all the perks I mentioned above. All it takes is a bit of paperwork (OK, a crap load of paperwork) and the biological requirements and you can be on your way to mommy-hood with the German government throwing money at you. Ultimately, the German government isn’t handing out cash hand over fist because they think babies are cute. Germany needs babies to grow up to be workers, who will make salaries which can then be taxed. Your child’s purpose in Germany is clear from the day it is born. Within a week of child’s birth the baby must be registered so he can receive his own tax ID number because in Germany it’s never too early to get one of those.
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