Families with a migrant background: traditional values count
Destatis, 13 March 2012
Families with a migrant background are an everyday sight in Germany. In 2010, 2.3 million families with children under 18 years were living in Germany, in which at least one parent had foreign roots. They represented 29% of the total of 8.1 million families with minor children. Compared with 2005 – the year when the microcensus started to collect detailed information on the population with a migrant background – the proportion of migrant families has risen by 2 percentage points.
Most of the families with a migrant background live in the western part of Germany. In 2010, the proportion of migrant families in all families was 32% in the former territory of the Federal Republic. This figure was more than double that in the new Länder (incl. Berlin) where it stood at 15%. A more detailed regional breakdown reveals that an above-average number of families with a migrant background live in conurbations. In large cities with a population of 500,000 or more, their share is 43%. In contrast, only about one in eight families (12%) has a migrant background in small municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants.
Families in which at least one parent is of Turkish origin account for 21% and constitute the largest proportion of migrant families. Families who came to Germany from the former Soviet Union, among them mainly ethnic German repatriates, rank second with 16%, followed by families with roots in former Yugoslavia (9%). Next come Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece (8%), the south European countries where guest workers were recruited in the past.
Notwithstanding the heterogeneity and variety of migrant families as well as related aspects (regional origin, language, culture, religion, etc.), a number of crucial differences can be identified when comparing families with and without a migrant background.
Marriage is highly valued in families with a migrant background
In 2010, married couples as a traditional family form could be found in 80% of the migrant families, a considerably larger percentage than for families without a migrant background (69%). Only 14% of the families with a migrant background consisted of lone mothers or fathers (non-migrant families: 21%). Another 5% of them comprised cohabiting couples with minor children (non-migrant families: 10%).
Families with a migrant background more often have 3 or more children
Differences also emerge when comparing the number of children in families with and without a migrant background. Families with a migrant background more often have three or more minor children in the household than families without a migrant background. In 2010, about 15% of the families with a migrant background contained three or more minor children, as compared with just 9% of the families without a migrant background.
When disregarding migrant status, the majority of families have just one minor child living in the household. However, this proportion was lower for families with a migrant background (47%) than for families without a migrant background (55%).
More children, but less money
Despite the larger average number of family members, families with a migrant background often have a lower net family income than families without a migrant background. While more than half of the families with a migrant background (62%) had to live on less than Euro 2,600 per month in 2010, this was true of only 44% of the families without a migrant background. In particular in the income class from Euro 1,300 to 2,600, the proportion of families with a migrant background was significantly higher at 49% than that of families without a migrant background (33%). Conversely, in the upper two income classes the percentages of families without a migrant background were higher than those of families with a migrant background.
Consequently, compared with non-migrant families, a considerably higher share of migrant families depend on transfer payments as their main source of livelihood. In 2010, public transfer payments (“Hartz IV benefits”, public assistance, unemployment benefit I) were the main source of income of 17% of the families with a migrant background. The corresponding proportion of families without a migrant background (8%) was only about half as high. It must however be pointed out that the vast majority of migrant families (79%) live on income derived from employment (families without a migrant background: 88%).
Labour force participation: rather traditional role patterns in families with a migrant background
Work and career on the one hand, family life and childcare on the other – combining them is a real challenge for many parents, regardless of their migrant status. In the following paragraphs, only fathers and mothers of working age whose youngest child is under 15 years will be discussed because, usually, home childcare is no longer needed for older children.
In 2010, both parents, that is, father and mother were in active employment in 59% of the couple families without a migrant background, while this was true of only 39% of the couples with a migrant background. “Traditional role patterns”, which mean that only the father is in employment, were observed in 40% of the migrant families, a significantly higher percentage than among couple families without a migrant background (28%). The proportion of couples where neither mother nor father was in employment was nearly twice as high among couples with a migrant background (15%) than among those without a migrant background (8%).
Rather small differences in labour force participation depending on the migrant status were observed in 2010 if both partners were in employment. Among couples with a migrant background, too, full-time employment of the father combined with part-time employment of the mother was by far the most frequent pattern at 69% (couples without a migrant background: 72%). In 23% of the couples – with or without a migrant background – both partners worked full-time. The remaining two constellations (part-time work of father/full-time work of mother or both partners in part-time employment) were insignificant in terms of numbers for both migrant and non-migrant couples.
Anja Galster, Thomas Haustein - Federal Statistical Office
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