Transitional Economic Systems: The Polish-Czech Example

By Dorothy W. Douglas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
LABOUR AND SOCIAL SECURITY

I n all the planned economies a counter-balance to extremes of wage differentiation has been the systems of social insurance and other labour amenities available on a wide basis to the working population. These systems have moreover served to take the edge off the burden for the wage earner of the high rate of national investment incident to industrialization. That all these economics regard social insurance as integral to their development can be seen from the fact that, beginning with the Soviet Union, they have established extremely broad systems, or greatly extended their old ones almost immediately, in spite of great material difficulties. And in all such systems the labour movement itself has played a decisive part.

At the outset the patterns of development followed have derived to some extent from the historical pre-war conditions of the particular country, and thus have reflected various of the classic problems of social insurance. Later on, with fuller development in a socialist direction, and with the increasing effect of Soviet example, a pattern emerges characteristic of the planned economies as such.


The Classic Problems of Social Insurance

The general development of social insurance as we have known it has been from scattered funds originally under the control of the employer,1 to a more or less unified system under Government auspices, with more or less uniform benefits. Systems once established in a separate series of funds and benefit scales are hard to change over. But it can be done, as witness Britain to-day.

Historically, unemployment benefits were late-comers in the social insurance field, but they quickly rose to emergency proportions under it. The public had come to demand such protection more than any other kind, as can be seen from the history of the

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1
Germany under Bismarck furnished the classic example of such a system.

-235-

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