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Old age policies in France and Germany from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the First World War : a quantitative re-definition

Altenpolitik in Frankreich und Deutschland in den letzen Jahrzehnten des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg: eine quantitative Re-Definition
[journal article]

Diebolt, Claude; Reimat, Anne

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Abstract Für den Zeitraum 1880-1914 werden die Sozialsysteme Frankreichs und Deutschlands - speziell im Hinblick auf die Renten- und Pensionsempfänger - verglichen. Quantitativ ausgewertet werden die Zahl der Rentenempfänger sowie die Rentenhöhen über den Zeitverlauf. Obwohl Deutschland als Motor der Einführung von Sozialversicherungssystemen führend in Europa oder gar weltweit war (so waren 1902 bereits neun Millionen Personen rentenversichert), lassen sich die beiden Wohlfahrtssysteme nicht allein unter rechtlichen und institutionellen Aspekten befriedigend vergleichen. Betrachtet man das Sozialsystem in seiner Gesamtheit, so kann festgestellt werden, daß die soziale Lage älterer Menschen in Frankreich sich nicht wesentlich von der in Deutschland unterschied. (pra)

"This paper aims to produce, with the methods of quantitative history, a comparative analysis of old age policies in France and Germany during the period 1880-1914. This period is particulary interesting for comparison. In Germany, Bismarck's social insurance laws become effective. In France, debates on retirement are widely present in parliamentary discussions; compulsory retirement pensions are obtained by some professions, as miners (1894) or railroaders (1910), but other old age welfare systems already exist (assistance, life annuities by personal and voluntary saving etc.). An analysis in economic history terms, with the contribution of homogeneous statistical series, seems likely to improve the understanding of different systems in application in both countries. Among these, what is, for each country, the number of persons drawing social security and receiving an old age pension? What are the characteristics of these welfare systems, and in particular what is the aggregate amount of social security benefits devoted to old age? The various series - and especially total expenditure devoted to old age - shall allow us to analyse differences between France and Germany. Also, they will allow us to understand if these differences are due to legislative or institutional differences, or if they actually represent inequalities in welfare levels. On the other hand, how can we explain these differences? Recent works have shown, for France, that the adoption of an efficient old age social insurance is linked to social and economic changes - industrialization, urbanization, family structure change - and more particulary, industrial concentration and generalization of wage-earning. Is it similar in Germany? And, in this case, industrial development differences that can be observed between the two countries may explain the social welfare advance in Germany, it's the socialist movement strength which has constrained Bismarck to pass avant-garde social laws. But is this the only reason? This contribution will attempt to bring elements of reply to these various questions." (author's abstract)
Keywords provision for old age; social insurance; France; German Empire; retiree; pension insurance; social system; policy on the elderly; social welfare state; welfare state
Classification Social Security; Family Policy, Youth Policy, Policy on the Elderly; Social History, Historical Social Research
Method empirical; quantitative empirical; historical
Document language English
Publication Year 1997
Page/Pages p. 181-197
Journal Historical Social Research, 22 (1997) 3/4
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works