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Old-Age and Invalidity Pensions


Belgium, 1850, 1903 (voluntary except for miners). Italy, 1898, 1907 (all wage-earners).


Belgium, for miners, 1868.

Germany, 1889, 1899, 1911.

Austria, 1889 (miners only); 1900 (office employees).

Denmark, 1891, 1908 (non-contributory).

France, for seamen, 1850, 1881; for miners, 1894, 1905, 1907 (non contributory, all indigent citizens) ; 1910 (contributory, all workmen and employees; was voluntary by laws, 1850, 1886).

Great Britain, 1908 (non-contributary, old-age pensions, granted by the government).

§ 10. Life insurance for wage-earners. Life insurance for salaried men and the higher paid wage-earners is pro vided in many cases by the regular reserve companies, but only a small proportion of the fifteen million "ordinary poli cies" in force touch the mass of the wage workers. The assess ment companies (including fraternal orders), with something like nine million certificates in force and collecting about $150,000,000 annually from members, likewise serve mainly either the elite of the wage workers or the farmers and the business men of the small communities. But the greatest increase of life insurance for wage-earners has come of late in the form of "industrial policies" (for less than $1000 each), of which (in 1919) there were forty-four million in force, three times the number of "ordinary" policies. The premiums received were $225,000,000, of which $181,000,000 were either paid to policyholders or added to reserves (ulti mately for the benefit of policyholders). There are, of course, a good many cases (the number undeterminable) in which two or more of these assessment and industrial policies are held by one insured person, and many other cases where the insured is a minor. But the figures show, nevertheless, that provision of a minimum of life insurance is becoming well nigh universal among wage-earners. This result, surely de sirable, is due in large part to the active efforts of solicitors of the companies working on commission. The cost of doing business, or deduction (about 20 per cent) from premiums paid, is perhaps not too much to pay for this educational work in the formative period of popular insurance experi ence. Less gratifying is the thought that these policies pro vide in most cases quite insufficient indemnities for the sur viving members of the family, the proceeds frequently be ing barely sufficient for funeral expenses ("grave-yard in surance"), and in the great majority of other cases the meager proceeds quickly disappear, unwisely invested or foolishly spent, leaving the family quite unprovided for.

An admirable plan that is making very rapid progress is "group insurance," issued by the regular companies to in dustrial establishments, covering all the persons in their employ during the year. In 1919 there were more than six thousand of these group contracts in force. This is but one of the ways in which private employers are now increasingly providing insurance for the survivors in the families of their employees. The ideal to be looked toward is a general plan that will make possible universal and adequate life insurance for all income-earning members of the § H. Historical roots of health insurance. Health insur ance (called also sickness insurance) had its origin partly in trade-unions and in fraternal societies voluntarily organized by workers, and partly in the system of public poor relief. The voluntary societies were first recognized, regulated, and encouraged by law (in some cases being given state subsidies), and later, in some cases, being made compulsory for some classes of members (i. e., such as miners and seamen). On these institutions have been built the later state systems of social health insurance. This movement had made great headway by the end of the third quarter of the nineteenth century in various European countries. The two systems that are the most typical and influential examples are those of the German Empire and of Great Britain, the former local and the latter national in organization. The British plan of national health insurance promises to be, on the whole, of the greatest influence upon American opinion and policy. However, the best informed American students favor in some features the more decentralized German system, as fitting our conditions rather better than the centralized British system. While it is impossible to describe here the various systems in detail, the situation in the leading indus trial countries of Europe may be indicated as follows.

2 This subject should be studied in connection with the general principle of insurance set forth in chs. 12 and 13.

insurance, wage-earners, life, miners and companies