Breadwinner model

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The breadwinner model is a model of the family division of labor , in which the livelihood for a nuclear family is secured entirely or predominantly through the employment of one person and in return the spouse or partner takes on the housework and family work . It is also called single-earner model , as Einverdienermodell or in the case of a marriage as Einverdienerehe or breadwinner referred. Due to the influence of traditional gender roles , in couples where only one partner is employed, men usually have the breadwinner role, women the role of housewife . Housekeepers in today's sense hardly make an appearance in society.

If the partner is gainfully employed, but only marginally employed or employed to a significantly lesser extent than the main breadwinner, this is referred to as an additional earner model .

If only one spouse is involved in the labor market, this can pose a risk of poverty if the breadwinner becomes unemployed. Even in the event of separation or divorce, the lack of integration of a partner in the labor market means a risk of poverty - especially if the previous sole earner has only a low income.


The formation of the nuclear family  took place in connection with the industrial revolution in Europe. The term youth was only used more frequently from 1800 and perceived as an independent period. Previously, children were simply additional workers in the entire household, which included the extended family with members of several generations and side lines and, in addition to family members in the narrower sense, also service staff and distant relatives.

In the 16th to 18th centuries, Hausmann or Pater Familias were the male directors of larger rural households, for which there was also a large amount of advisory literature in the form of so-called house fathers literature (see also home cooking ). It was not until the second half of the 19th century that women began to be perceived independently - in the comparatively new roles of housemothers and increasingly the younger, still inexperienced housewives - and then in large-scale household guides and in a separate education system especially for women also to be addressed. At the same time, the technical equipment of private and professional households increased massively, as did the associated household literature. The associated new role of the housewife as head of household, such as job descriptions like the house officer was later also under the slogan Where housewives made the housekeeping schools then emerging among others (see, for example. Economic Frauenschule attributed to the fact and then) - again under emancipatory sign - negative rather seen.


The concept of the breadwinner model was used by Jane Lewis and Ilona Ostner as an element of a characterizing description of constellations of gainful employment and family work in the welfare state . According to their distinction, a state with a “strong breadwinner model” guarantees the social security of women mainly through their working male partners and there are few public care facilities; a state with a “weak breadwinner model”, on the other hand, grants women an independent right to social security, mothers largely work full-time, and there is a comprehensive care infrastructure for children and the elderly.

Historically, the male breadwinner model is based (or breadwinner-housewife model ) on a specific gender roles , after which the man as breadwinner is responsible for full-time paid work and the woman the role of housewife and mother met. The male breadwinner model is therefore also called the housewife model or marriage or the traditional bourgeois family model . The underlying understanding of roles was common in the bourgeois culture of the Biedermeier and in the bourgeoisie at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The civil code , which was passed in 1896 and came into force on January 1, 1900, translated this understanding of roles into a set of rules, and the draft law was explained as follows: “The main occupation of a wife relates to the interior of the house and is found in the wealthy classes of the population regularly limited to it. ”In practice, class-specific values ​​restricted the breadwinner model to privileged strata: Above all in the civil servants and employees, there was a social security for women that was dependent on men. Employee widows received a widow's pension based on the Employee Insurance Act, regardless of their ability to work . Worker widows, on the other hand, were referred back to gainful employment despite the family ideal and only received a low widow's pension in the event of their invalidity on the basis of the Reich Insurance Code. ( See also: Reich Insurance Code).

Later this model became the social norm, especially in post-war western Germany as a middle-class nuclear family . The normal employment is created in terms of working hours and pay levels so that the salary of a person, along with public transfer payments is enough for the children, for the livelihood of a family.

Social policy and legal background

Education System

The breadwinner model and its modification as a supplementary earner model form the framework for the concept of half-day kindergarten and half-day school, which is particularly widespread in German-speaking countries . The latter is often limited to three and a half hours of lessons a day during primary school. Half-day compulsory schooling was introduced in Germany in the 19th century so that children could help with housework and fieldwork in addition to attending school, but it remained the rule until well beyond the middle of the 20th century when this requirement only played a minor role played.

Social, tax and labor law

It has been stated on various occasions that the breadwinner model, especially in Germany, is supported by the social insurance system (with the free family co- insurance and widow's pension capped by the contribution ceiling ), tax law (especially spouse splitting ) and labor law ( e.g. social selection ). For example, the Rostock Center for Demographic Change (ZDWA) states that in Germany "elements such as spouse splitting, non-contributory health and long-term care insurance, the crediting of child-rearing periods for the pension and, at least in western Germany, the low childcare quota for children under three, continue to support the mother's caring role ” . This would also apply to a possible introduction of a parenting salary. In the area of ​​low household incomes , the child allowance creates negative incentives for a spouse to be able to work. 

It is critically noted that in the current social model, employment of both partners is only promoted and demanded by the measures of social policy, in particular by unemployment benefit II , if no member of the marriage or benefit community can achieve sufficient income to support the family on their own. In this context, the subordinate consideration of unemployed people who are not in need in the placement work of the employment agency is viewed critically, as it has a negative effect on women in particular.

In the event of the death of the partner, a survivor, even if he was not or only to a limited extent, was dependent on pension entitlements and private financial security in old age. In Germany, the survivor's pension has been increasingly restricted and regularly no longer provides for retirement. The small widow's pension amounts to around 25% of the deceased spouse's pension, it is paid for a maximum of 24 months (except in old cases), it expires when a new marriage takes place and is subject to other incomes. Those who have agreed on pension splitting , on the other hand, are entitled to half the pension.

For the future provision of a partner who is not employed to a lesser extent, see also: Insufficient insurance cover for housework and family work, as well as child-rearing time and pension provision for family work .

Family law

The new maintenance law in Germany , on the other hand, is intended to promote post-marital self - responsibility and is based on the independent livelihood of both parents: as a rule, the caring parent has to return to work earlier after a separation or divorce than before the reform and has no guarantee that the standard of living will be maintained through maintenance. The lawyer and Senator for Justice a. D. Lore Maria Peschel-Gutzeit explained: “The life plans of women that are based on the income and status of the husband will not endure in the future. However, many changes and court rulings on childcare maintenance are still required until the behavior of those affected changes sustainably through personal experience or in the social environment. Those who want to secure themselves have to consider marriage contracts more than before , in which the distribution of roles in the family and the resulting economic responsibility are clearly regulated. "

Social change

The model is increasingly changing towards other models in those western industrial and service societies in which the single-earner model has prevailed up to now.

Several factors are given as reasons, such as changing perceptions of roles or the fact that a salary is often no longer sufficient to secure the livelihood of an entire family. Due to the falling amount of pensions, lower widow's pensions and a higher divorce rate, the pension model increasingly involves a financial risk for the person “cared for”. Based on a study sponsored by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung , scientists warn that pension insurance claims derived from the provider "suggested that the wife would have financial security in old age, which the widow's pension would, however, no longer provide".

Social development is going in other directions, for example towards a higher-income model , also known as the "modernized breadwinner model", in which one partner works full-time and one part-time , or towards partnership models ( dual care models ) in which both partners work full-time and part-time are employed full-time or part-time to a comparable extent, and are also involved in caring for and bringing up children.

Risk of divorce

According to Gary Becker's theory, specialization in domestic and gainful employment is associated with a lower risk of separation within marriage. On the basis of panel data ( socio-economic panel ) of West German marriages from 1984 to 2007, it was shown that the theory only holds if the man takes over gainful employment. Couples in which only the woman is employed have a substantially higher risk of divorce than couples in which only the man is employed. An equal division of gainful employment, however, has no influence on the risk of divorce.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ernst-Ulrich Huster, Jürgen Boeckh, Hildegard Mogge-Grotjahn: Handbook Poverty and Social Exclusion , Springer, 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-15220-2 . P. 267 .
  2. Hans Jürgen Teuteberg, «From housemother to housewife. Kitchen work in the 18th / 19th century in contemporary housekeeping literature », in: Hans Jürgen Teuteberg (Ed.) The revolution at the dining table: new studies on food culture in the 19th-20th centuries. Century, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004, a. a. Pp. 116-119
  3. Britta Oehlke, Where housewives are made ... Northwest German household schools and their influences and effects from the end of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century. Dortmund: Wulff (2004), Univ., Diss., 2003. Münster (Westphalia).
  4. Jane Lewis and Ilona Ostner , quoted from Sigrid Leitner : Welfare state and gender relations in transition. What comes after the breadwinner model? VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-8100-3934-9 . P. 209 ff.
  5. ^ A b Stefanie Hallberg: This is how the family model changed. WDR, April 12, 2006, archived from the original on March 11, 2009 ; Retrieved January 18, 2009 .
  6. Motifs for the draft of a BGB for the German Reich, Volume 4, 1896, p. 107. Quoted from: Kirsten Scheiwe: Social security models between individualization and dependencies. (PDF; 2.0 MB) Retrieved March 25, 2009 . P. 133. , footnote 23.
  7. Barbara Riedmüller : Guiding principles for women and family politics in the German pension system. (PDF) Retrieved August 31, 2014 .
  8. Heike Paterak: Institutional early education in the field of tension between normative family models and social reality. Waxmann Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-89325-795-0 . P. 155.
  9. ^ Günther Schorch: Study book for elementary school pedagogy. UTB-Verlag, 2007. p. 87.
  10. Michelle J. Budig: Childcare Reduces Poverty Among Single Parents. (PDF; 601 kB) In: DFAEH 1/2008. 2008, accessed March 28, 2009 .
  11. ^ Joya Misra, Stephanie Moller, Michelle J. Budig: Avoiding poverty through childcare and equality - especially for single parents. ZDWA, archived from the original on February 3, 2016 ; Retrieved March 28, 2009 .
  12. Katharina Wrohlich: Family and Education in Agenda 2010: Goals, Measures and Effects. (PDF; 123 kB) In: Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung Vol. 77 No. 1, pp. 90–97. DIW Berlin, 2008, accessed on August 21, 2009 . Sections p. 96.
  13. ^ Maria Wersig: Legal and social dimensions of the male-breadwinner model in Germany. (PDF; 130 kB) In: Working Paper No. 3 in the Working Papers series of the “breadwinner model” project. Freie Universität Berlin, November 2006, accessed on September 1, 2009 (English). P. 8.
  14. ^ Maria Wersig: Legal and social dimensions of the male-breadwinner model in Germany. (PDF; 130 kB) In: Working Paper No. 3 in the Working Papers series of the “breadwinner model” project. Freie Universität Berlin, November 2006, accessed on September 1, 2009 (English). P. 9.
  15. Survey: Consequences of the new maintenance law still unknown. In: press release. Bertelsmann Stiftung , May 27, 2009, accessed September 12, 2009 .
  16. "Fighting old-age poverty where it arises: on the labor market". New study on the expected pension income of the baby boomers presented , Freie Universität Berlin, press release No. 15/2012 of January 24, 2012, version of February 18, 2012, accessed on February 18, 2012.
  17. ^ Effect of Labor Division between Wife and Husband on the Risk of Divorce: Evidence from German Data. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4515, October 2009 (PDF; 170 kB)