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From the Memorandum by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs on "The Reasons for Our Declining Birth Rate" (1957)

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C. Gainful employment of married women:
The extraordinary rise in the gainful employment of wives in modern economic and social life must be seen in connection with the economic reasons for keeping families small. After all, it is chiefly these same reasons that are prompting married women to work, especially in factories and offices; those cases in which women prefer this sort of outside work to family work represent a genuine minority.

There can be no doubt that the gainful employment of married women has an unfavorable influence on the birth rate in this circle of women. Both economic and professional concerns, as well as the excessive physical strain associated with holding two jobs – the housewife’s job is also a full-time job – lead gainfully employed married women to substantially limit the number of children they have. These thoughts are confirmed by the findings of the Federal Office of Statistics. According to this data, in 1950, married couples living together where the wife was gainfully employed had, on average, 0.6 children under the age of fifteen in their household, while the corresponding number for all married couples was 0.9.

However, these numbers do not yet provide any final indication, because they do not reveal unambiguously whether the lower frequency of births among working wives in each specific case was the consequence or the cause of employment. To render a secure judgment, we would have to know, in addition to age, also the length of the marriage, the income of the husband, and other characteristics about which the statistics currently do not provide any information.

D. Housing shortage:
The approximately 10,000 submissions that the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs receives each year just from those in search of housing clearly show that the housing shortage is still having a serious effect on many of our families. Despite the construction of about 3.5 million housing units at a cost of about 55 billion DM, the Federal Ministry for Housing Construction estimated that the shortfall of family housing units (multi-room apartments) was still 1.6 million at the end of 1956. These problems particularly affect younger couples, who, after marriage, have still been unable to find suitable housing or do not have sufficient funds to purchase an apartment. Time and again, the submissions make clear just how much younger married couples, who see raising several children as one goal of their marriage, are suffering from housing conditions that simply make it impossible for them to do so.

E. Contraception and abortion:
The desire to keep families small for the aforementioned reasons is aided by the fact that ever wider circles have received more comprehensive education about contraceptive measures and abortion. According to studies by the Federal Office of Statistics, condom production alone has doubled within the last five years (around 44 million in 1950, around 88 million in 1955). No numerical data on chemical contraceptives is available yet.

Much greater importance is attached to the rise in miscarriages and abortions. The Hamburg hygienist Professor Dr. Harmsen, a member of the advisory council of the Federal Ministry for Family Matters, rightly sees this as a central problem for our national health and for the birth trend.

Also, according to medical opinion, one can no longer overlook the considerable rise in miscarriages as a factor in the noticeable decline in current birth numbers. Although doctors have practically no obligation to report miscarriages anymore, whereas they did in time before the Second World War, the few numerical records from the postwar period provide sufficient indication that the rise in miscarriages is a terrifyingly serious socio-biological as well as socio-hygienic problem. [ . . . ]

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