20
SOCIAL SECURITY IN
AMERICA: THE TWO SYSTEMS—
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE

Eveline M. Burns

In the United States there are two systems of organized provision for social security. On the one hand, there are the public programs (social insurance, public assistance, and measures for veterans) which are supported by taxes or compulsory contributions; on the other hand, there are the so-called fringe benefits or employee-benefit systems which provide pensions, disability and supplementary unemployment benefits, and some types of medical care as part of the wage contract. But it would be a great mistake to think that the two are equally important. In 1962‐ 1963, the public programs disbursed some 31.58 billion dollars for income maintenance alone; whereas, the fringe-benefit social‐ security programs, including those which federal, state, and local governments provide as employers for their current or past employees, amounted only to 8.38 billion dollars. Employee-benefit schemes in private industry accounted for only 4.78 billion dollars of this sum. Even in the field of medical-care costs, where governmental activity in America has been much less pronounced than in other countries, public tax-supported expenditures for personal health-care in this same year amounted to a little over 5 billion dollars as against only 4 billion dollars disbursed under employee-benefit schemes. 1

____________________
1
The figures in this paragraph are computed from Ida C. Merriam, "Social Welfare Expenditures," Social Security Bulletin, 26 (November 1963), pp. 3-14 and Joseph Krislov, "Employee Benefit Plans, 1954-1962," Social Security Bulletin (April 1964), p. 11.

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