To cite this german speaking site:

Hatte eine Frau trotz der wenigen Stellen einmal eine Anstellung erhalten, war ihr diese nicht auf Dauer sicher. So gab es zum Beispiel aufgrund der schlechten wirtschaftlichen Lage und der damit verbundenen Arbeitslosigkeit seitens der Politik eine Kampagne gegen Doppelverdiener. Frauen drohte die Entlassung, wenn ihr Mann berufstätig war.

Which means roughly translated:

If a women had - despite the little amount of jobs - got a job, the employment wasn't secure. Because of the poor economic situation and the hence high number of unemployment the government had started an campaign against double earner. Women risked to be fired if her husband were employed.

That doesn't make sense to me. The industry in that time was, because of the war in a high demand for workers. Women were able to fill that gap, but were according to the quote fired if their husband was already employed. I guess that resulted in a big damage for the industry in that time, because they had even fewer workers.

Therefore my question: why tried the government in the 20s to fire working women if their husband was employed?

EDIT: regarding the location: The site unfortunately doesn't explicitly says that its content only relates to germany. The only given hint is one section talking about the everyday life of berlin:

[...]Wer um 1920 zum ersten Mal nach Berlin kam, wurde von der ungewohnte Dichte und Hektik des Verkehrs geradezu überwältigt. [...]

Which translates to:

[...] Persons visiting Berlin around 1920 the first time, were almost stunned of the density and flurry of activity. [...]

  • There are two assumptions in conflict: 1) high unemployment (in your quote) 2) high demand for workers (in your paragraph after quote). You may wish to annotate your quote to clarify if the source is talking about Germany; the location is very relevant to the Government policy and the resolution of this conflict.
    – MCW
    Jun 12, 2016 at 12:19
  • 1
    @MarkC.Wallace I addressed that in my question.
    – uuu
    Jun 12, 2016 at 12:44
  • 3
    Which war are you talking about? WWI ended in 1918, the run-up to WWII had not started yet.
    – o.m.
    Jun 12, 2016 at 13:53
  • @o.m. I talk about the consequences of WWI
    – uuu
    Jun 12, 2016 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


The thought processes was that each employed woman was taking that job away from an unemployed man. With unemployment rampant, this was the time leading into the depression in the US, and economic collapse in Germany(not sure where your question is referencing in particular), it seemed more important to lower the overall unemployment rate. You can find several books discussing this, and the practice was not limited to Germany. This book discusses similar behaviors in Great Britain and Czechoslovakia in the same time frame.

  • 1
    Yes, and the other important assumption would be that an individual man's income could very likely be supporting an entire family. So an unemployed man equals a whole family without an income, whereas an employed married woman is an unfair extravagance which results in a family which effectively has two incomes. It is better to feed two families adequately, than to have one family with nothing while another is living indulgently. Feb 13, 2020 at 11:03

The 1920s were after the (First World) war. Soldiers were coming home from the front. The majority were "bachelors" but quite a few of them had wives.

"Society" needed jobs for these returning soldiers. In some cases, a wife worked because her husband had been killed or incapacited in the war. But if her husband were "able" and working, it was considered "fairer" for the wife to lose her job so that it could be given to another returning soldier.

  • 2
    Yes, there is probably nothing more dangerous to a society than to have a large number of men trained to kill in war who are unable to find a useful and satisfying place in their community when they return. Feb 13, 2020 at 11:07

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