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Diverse Living Arrangements

New living arrangements are shaping German society. Targeted measures are being introduced to improve the reconcilability of career and family.
© Kanea/

Even in the individualised and highly mobile world of the 21st century, family is accorded a central role. According to a study by Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach conducted in 2019, more than three quarters of the population (77 percent) put family first and above everything else in life. At the same time, ideas about the typical family form are changing. Less than half the people in Germany live in a family unit. Despite the decline of traditional family structures, in 2019 married couples with children under 18 constituted the most common family form at almost 70 percent. The number of mar­riages has recently edged up; in 2019 the figure was a little over 416,000. Due to the Corona pandemic, that number fell significantly during the first half of 2020.

A little more than one in three marriages ends in divorce. The average length of marriages that ended in divorce in 2019 was just under 15 years. Slightly more than 50,000 marriages took place between Germans and foreigners in 2019.

More unmarried couples with children

The number of cohabiting, unmarried couples with children is significantly increasing. Between 1999 and 2019 the figure doubled to 8.2 million families with children under 18; more than one in ten couples with a child is unmarried. Families with just one parent are also a growing family form. Today single parents make up almost a fifth of all parent-child constellations and almost nine out of ten of the 1.5 million single parents are women. Single parents are often at considerable risk of enduring poverty; around 38 percent of them draw state benefits.

Same-sex partnerships are among those forms of living that are gaining in signifi­cance. In 2019 there were 142,000 homo­sexual couples living together in Germany – over 50 percent more than ten years before. Around 34,000 of them live in registered partnerships, which have ensured that same-sex couples’ relationships have been legally recognised since 2001. In 2017, the Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. Technically speaking half the 598 seats in the Bundestag are allocated by means of the parties’ state lists (the second vote) and the other half by the direct election of candidates in the 299 constituencies (the first vote). This… Read more › enacted the so-called “Marriage for all”. Homosexual couples now have the right to a full marriage and thus, for example, also to adopt children. Today there are around 52,000 homosexual couples with children.

Whereas on the one hand new forms of cohabitation are emerging, on the other the number of one-person households is on the rise. 42 percent of all private households are single households. While this development is a result of demographic change with the number of elderly people living alone increasing, more young people are also living alone.