Poverty and the Family-Income Cycle. Casual Laborers in Amsterdam in the First Half of the 20th Century

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Based on data collected from the files of the municipal poor relief institutions, the incomes of amsterdam casual (dock) laborers and of their wives and children, poor relief, and other sources of income are plotted against their family cycles. The emerging patterns confirm results arrived at in american, british, and belgian studies: married women worked for wages mainly in the first period of the marriage, when the children were still too young to earn. For the same reason, families relied more on poor relief in this first period than later on. Only in the second and third periods could families rely (more or less) on their own labor due to the substantial contribution made by their children (from age 14). Wives of these casual laborers worked more for wages (often as charwomen) than did the wives of skilled laborers. Obviously, norms and rules about wives' responsibilities in the home were strong enough to prevent women from aspiring to substantial, or even lifetime jobs, although only a few families in this sample could survive on the males' incomes alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-237
JournalThe History of the Family
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

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