The future of the family

The future of the family – at the centre of life

The traditional image of the family is in no danger of fading: two-thirds of Germans state that their own family is the “most important thing” in life. Non-tangible benefits and pro-social values gain in importance particularly in times of crisis when material prosperity is not a given. The family remains at the heart of German life as a haven of social well-being.

However, the 21st century will also be characterised by a broader understanding of family. The model of the patchwork family will not be the only feature of everyday life in the future. Demographic change and altered social structures will give rise to more “families of choice” and “relatives of choice”. As in the case of adoption, friends, neighbours or acquaintances will be included in these new relationship concepts and act as lifelong social convoys. In particular, “genuine” friendships will become more important in this context. Three-quarters of Germans confirm that their friends are like a second family on whom they can depend.

In our multi-option society, the question of how Germans want to and will combine all aspects of life in future will also influence family structures. Achieving a balance between career and family life will also play a key role, as will the balance between individual personal fulfilment and starting a family. Male and female roles will undoubtedly adapt accordingly. The transformation of gender roles must be tangible and viable, which means general equality between the sexes in all areas.

A new way of thinking is called for. The key question in the future will not be how family life needs to be adapted to the workplace – but instead how the working world can be structured in a (more) family-friendly way. This opens up huge potential for the economy as the mood among German citizens is fundamentally positive: almost two-thirds of Germans support family-friendly companies, which facilitate part-time work or parental leave, for example. More than half of Germans favour state funding of companies that champion a work life balance. “Family-friendliness” can therefore evolve into a future brand feature and thus also offer the potential of financial profit for businesses.

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