When discussing the demise of the family wage, there are few people today who know what the family wage was.
Three decades before ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), President Kennedy recognized the need for an amendment to the Social Security Act. He suggested improvements to benefits–including benefits for the disabled–in February 1961. His argument was persuasive, and he succeeded in signing the amendments on June 30, 1961. At the signing, Kennedy called the changes “an additional step toward eliminating many of the hardships resulting from old age, disability or the death of the family wage-earner.”
I earned a family wage supplement in Germany, before I emigrated to Canada in 1962. Prior to the early 1960s, it was in place in the USA but also in many nations in Europe, but it was one of the first issues on the agenda of the radical feminists that they had vowed to get abolished, because they claimed it was a symptom of patriarchal oppression.
In 1963 JFK had to give in to pressure by radical feminists, and family wages came to an end in the USA.
The women’s movement of the 19th Century struggled to establish not a male but a family wage. It did not favor men; it favored breadwinners. This policy derived from their primary concern that mothers should be able to devote full time to raising children and managing a home. To do that they had to be provided for, and it was the husband and father who had to do the providing, which meant that he had to earn a wage sufficient to support not only himself but his entire family.
The long enduring effort to institutionalize the family wage eventually succeeded. Robertson writes that “it has been estimated that by 1960 a family wage was paid by 65 percent of all employers in the United States and by 80 percent of the major industrial companies.” He adds, “Although feminist historians today call the family-wage ideal a “myth” designed to keep married women oppressed, few myths have come closer to becoming reality.” He later states that “the family-wage economy that prevailed from 1945 to 1970 was the product of an ideal pursued deliberately, primarily by women’s organizations, through the political process….”
The reversal of the traditional family order, the work of countless family women and men during the previous century, quickly accelerated. By 1963, President Kennedy had established a Women’s Commission which was stacked with career oriented women and in the same year Congress passed an Equal Pay Act, which dealt a blow to the family wage concept.
From “Recovering the American Past with Brian C. Robertson”
— A review by Frank Zepezauer
It would be interesting, although that is more than I can handle by myself, to determine the exact time and date when the family wage was brought to an end in each of the developed nations. I am fairly certain that anyone discovering those dates will get a very astounding surprise.
At any rate, thanks to socialist feminism (a.k.a. radical- or Marxist-feminism), now neither men nor women nor the families they provide for get a family wage, but there is now government assistance funded by taxpayer largesse for all destitute single parents in need, the vast majority of whom are single mothers. Socialist feminism has done much to give us the welfare state, for which we are supposed to be eternally grateful.