Commission Report "A Strong Family - Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Small Social Networks"
Demographic Change

Commission Report "A Strong Family - Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Small Social Networks"

In their second round, in 2009, the expert commission for “Family and Demographic Change,” which was appointed by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and is under the chairmanship of Professor Kurt Biedenkopf, addressed “small social networks” and their role in civil society.

In the opinion of the commission, families carry a responsibility whose burden can be eased, but not entirely offset, by the state. Ultimately, therefore, small social networks - neighbors, friends, the extended family, civil society, and the local environment - are challenged. There are essentially two goals which a new family-oriented policy should follow: the children’s well-being and the participation of the elderly in family life and family-like communities. The necessary support is even more effective the closer it gets to the families and the small social networks.

Therefore, the experts say:
  • The immediate environment must be strengthened
  • First and foremost, family-oriented policy should be developed at the local level
  • The civil societal involvement for families must be met by proactive public incentives
  • New forms of cohabitation - especially for the elderly and in multi-generational groups - should be legally safeguarded
  • The benefits for and in the small social networks should be remunerated through tax breaks or a basic income
  • City development should be geared toward family-oriented political issues
  • The comparative exchange and the experience of learning from others should be targeted and facilitated

In their analyses, the commission members Kurt Biedenkopf, Hans Bertram, and Elisabeth Niejahr based their work on the consultation of numerous experts. In the current report, stimulating references to the central instruments of local family politics such as city planning and housing development, new developments in societal participation, and personal solidarity as well as neighborly assistance have been included as guest contributions. Furthermore, the report includes an inquiry by Prognos AG outlining the initiatives, living models, sponsorships, and support offers which supply the required amount of heart-warming and effective assistance for families and small social networks. The commission’s second report is based on the report “A Strong Family,” which was presented by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2005.

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The expert commission (from left): Hans Bertram, Elisabeth Niejahr, and Kurt Biedenkopf