In the late nineteenth century, large sections of the Austrian population were effectively excluded from the institutions of marriage and family because they lacked the property and income necessary to participate in them. In Alpine and rural communities, for example, property ownership was a traditional prerequisite for marriage that neither day-laborers nor household servants of landowning farmers could meet. Among urban and industrial working classes, poverty was so widespread that it made the establishment of independent households and families difficult.
During the course of the twentieth century, however, marriage and family have become increasingly common, especially after World War II, when the "economic miracle" brought prosperity to nearly everyone. For the first time in Austrian history, there was almost uniform access to these basic social institutions. Because of this, the postwar period up through the 1960s represented a "golden age" of the family in Austria. More than 90 percent of the women born between 1935 and 1945 have married--a percentage higher than any generation before or since. The "twochild family" was considered an ideal.
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