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Mothers of Young Children Should Work – but not for too Long

Chart of the Month – January 2017

The vast majority of young adults in Germany appreciate mothers of 2-year old toddlers who pursue working careers. However, approximately 16% of the respondents oppose any kind of employment. This is the result of a survey conducted by the Federal Institute for Population Research among 1,858 persons aged between 24 and 43 years. According to this, half of the respondents think that part-time employments between 16 and 25 work hours per week are ideal, followed by types of employment that are close to full time between 26 and 34 work hours (15%).

Basically, the approval of mothers of young children pursuing gainful employment depends on the region: In the western German federal states the half-time ideal dominates, whereby mothers work in the morning and care for their children in the afternoon. Almost one out of five respondents in western Germany even think that mothers of toddlers should not work at all, whereas in eastern Germany only a small minority rejects work activities of mothers in general. There, the majority rather supports close-to-full-time employment, whereby the children are provided full-day care, for instance in a nursery.

A significant reason for the different attitudes is diverging leitbilder. Dr. Sabine Diabaté (BiB) explains: “There has been an ideal in western Germany for a long time according to which mothers should take care of their children during the first two or three years of life.“ Eastern Germany, however, has a long tradition in public toddler care which is regarded as the ideal by most people there. Supported by the good infrastructure in terms of childcare, mothers in eastern Germany return to full-time jobs as soon as possible.

The picture shows a bar chart which illustrates the percentage of Mothers of young children with weekly hours of work between 24 and 43 years. Half of the interviewees holds part-time employment between 16 and 25 weekly hours for ideal. Mothers of Young Children Should Work – but not for too Long

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© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2018