In the preceding chapter the conclusion was reached that the social security system should provide benefits for all persons who are in need regardless of the specific cause of their need. The chapter following this one will deal with the special factors that have to be considered with respect to old age, disability, sickness, unemployment, and death. Specific questions regarding the size of benefit to be granted arise in connection with each of them. There are, however, certain questions with respect to the size of benefits that are common to them all, which will be presented in the present chapter.


Ignoring details and variants, one may say there are two major schools of thought with respect to the size of benefits in general. The first school maintains that the social security system should go no further than to insure to every resident a minimum level of living in accordance with a standard established by the government. The government may provide this level, as Sir William Beveridge proposed, by seeing that each individual is provided for personally or through a parent or guardian with enough to live according to that level regardless of what other resources he or she may have; or, as under the New Zealand means test system, it may if necessary supplement his available resources with sufficient funds to bring them to the established levels. Under either of these systems, if the individual desires more, he must get it through his own efforts or the effort of his family.

The second school apparently takes the position that the level of living to which an individual or family is accustomed depends largely upon the salary or wages of the individual or the wage earner of the family. If the individual or the family suffers from economic reverses, the amount of benefit supplied


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Relief and Social Security
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