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Occupation of Mothers of Illegitimate Children Born in Berlin (1891)

In 1870-1871, 10-12% of all births in Germany were illegitimate; five years later this figure stood at about 8-10%, roughly where it remained until 1914. As was the case for centuries, illegitimate births occurred more frequently in garrison towns and seaports. Other differences are more difficult to explain, including those based on religious confession or the degree of urbanization. The following table shows that mothers of illegitimate children born in Berlin were most likely to be workers, although occupational data are missing for many other mothers. Although such statistics provide one gauge of sexual behavior among different classes, they say more about the economic situation of social groups than about their individual or collective moral behavior.

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Occupation of Mothers of Illegitimate Children Born in Berlin (1891)


Per thousand

Workers (without additional specifications)


No information on occupation


Catering trade


Personal service


Clothing, cleaning




Arts and sciences


Health care services


Source: Statistisches Jahrbuch [Statistical Almanac] 1891, p. 44, quoted in H. Neumann, “Die unehelichen Kinder in Berlin” [“Illegitimate Children in Berlin”], Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik [Almanacs for National Economics and Statistics], 3rd series, vol. 7 (1894), pp. 516-20.

Original German data reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches], 3rd ed. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1982, p. 251.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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