The application of the methods of voluntary insurance to the provision of social security is greatly complicated by the existence of the family. If every person in the country were responsible only for himself, it would be unnecessary to discuss what is to be done with respect to persons who have been dependent for their support upon a socially insured individual deceased, disabled, or unemployed. The dependents with whom the present chapter is to be concerned are children, women, and parents. The dependent women are principally widows, wives of husbands who are unable to support them, and women estranged from their husbands whether they are divorced, legally separated, or just separated. With women who are self- supporting or supported by a husband, this chapter is not directly concerned.
Before proceeding to a consideration of these several classes of dependents, attention should be directed to the fact that there is wide variation among workers with respect to their status as to dependents. At the one extreme is the individual who is responsible for only himself. It would be difficult to describe the other extreme, for a primary breadwinner may be responsible for a wife, children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren whether related by blood or marriage.
In private voluntary insurance the situation is simplified because the responsible breadwinner alone may be insured, and he himself determines who his beneficiaries are to be. Moreover, he generally has the right to change beneficiaries from time to time as family responsibilities change, and he can allow a policy to lapse or take its cash surrender value. If he so desires, he may have a policy made payable to his estate and direct the distribution of the proceeds by his will.
It is possible to devise a compulsory system of old-age inssurance that would protect the insured individual only. If he