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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Structural framework > Society

Children, young people and young adults

Definition
in acc. with Article 7 (1) Social Code Book 8

Number of young people in Germany at 31 December 2019

1. Child: any person under the age of 14 10.7 million
~ 12.8% of the total population
2. Adolescent: any person that has turned 14 already but not yet 18 3.0 million
~ 3.6% of the total population
3. Young adult: a person that has turned 18 already but is not yet 27 8.2 million
~ 9.8% of the total population
4. Young person: a person who has not turned 27 yet 21.9 million
~ 26.3% of the total population

Notes

Child and youth services uses information on the environments and life circumstances of children, young people and young persons that have attained full age as an important tool to gain better insight into problematic situations. A key piece of data is the number of young people under the age of 27, since they constitute the target audience for child and youth services. Whilst for a long time this age cohort was in decline, it has returned to growth in recent years due to rising birth rates and higher immigration levels in 2015 and 2016.

Young people in Germany attain full age at 18. Under-18s are classed as minors and comprise the principal age group targeted by child and youth services. Given the wide variety of programmes available to help and support children, adolescents and their families, it is important to consider the quantitative relevance of this age group in the past, present and future. The big question is thus determining the number of young people for which child and youth services is responsible.

13.7 million under-18s lived in Germany on 31 December 2019, accounting for 16.4% of the total population. This share has remained largely constant in recent years despite a marginal increase in the absolute figures. Added to this are 8.2 million young persons who have attained full age (18 to 26 years), accounting for 9.8% of the population. Thus in 2019 child and youth services addressed a target audience comprising 21.9 million young people under the age of 27, or over one quarter of the entire population.

For the work of child and youth services, the growth/decline of various age groups plays a major role in specific areas; e.g., children under the age of 3 and between 3 and school age are relevant for child day-care, children aged 6 and over are relevant for child and youth work, and all age groups are relevant for the area of socio-educational support. In recent years, the greatest population growth has been in the younger age cohorts, whilst the number of young people and young adults in older age cohorts declined slightly between 2016 and 2019. Sustained demand for support has resulted in child and youth services creating additional offerings to serve the growing numbers of young people in the population. Knowledge of the trends in age cohorts relevant for youth services is an essential planning tool in many fields of child and youth services work, e.g., for managing the required number of child day-care places and necessary staffing. 

The population projections are further useful planning tools. For instance, the moderate variant in the 14th coordinated population projection shows that the total number of under-18s will continue to rise from 13.7 million at present to 14.2 million minors in 2030 (which would bring up the share of the population accounted for by minors from 16.4% to an estimated 17.0%). The biggest challenge posed by these population projections in terms of local planning and, in particular, policy-making, is in organising forward-looking, needs-based child and youth service programmes for young people and their families and incorporating these offerings on the ground in a flexible and plural landscape that caters to individual requirements.

Further reading
  • Böwing-Schmalenbrock, Melanie/Detemple, Jonas/Meiner-Teubner, Christiane (2021): Aufwachsen in Deutschland – Rahmenbedingungen der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. In: Autorengruppe Kinder- und Jugendhilfestatistik: Kinder- und Jugendhilfereport Extra 2021. Dortmund, p. 7−11.
  • Fendrich, Sandra (2018): Auswirkungen des demografischen Wandels auf die Arbeitsfelder der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. In: Böllert, Karin (ed.): Kompendium Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Wiesbaden, p. 1645−1665.
  • Statistisches Bundesamt: Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes (last accessed: 12 March 2021).
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