Call for more investment in childcare facilities
According to a survey by the economic think tank WIFO for the ministry of family affairs the state pays out €9 billion a year to support families, but this money is being used ineffectively.
Minister of Family Affairs Sophie Karmasin (ÖVP) has said that she wants to focus on better childcare facilities.
Austria has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, with 1.44 children per woman - despite having generous state benefits for child support. About three percent of the gross domestic product is used to support families, and 80 percent of this money is paid out as benefits.
Countries with a higher birth rate like France (with two children per woman) or Denmark (1.73) invest more in childcare facilities. Denmark spends about four times and France three times as much as Austria on childcare facilities.
According to the WIFO survey it is necessary to extend childcare infrastructure in Austria to allow people to balance work and family life. In Austria only 14 percent of children under the age of three are cared for outside of the home, while in Denmark it is 67 percent and in France 40 percent.
Karmasin said that she had already started working on this with an investment project worth about €300 million for the extension of childcare facilities.
Furthermore, she aims to split investments in the future equally between payments to families and infrastructure projects - hoping that Austria will become "the most family-friendly country in Europe" over the next four years.