The Development of Westeuropean Social Insurances 1885-1975 (histat-Datafile)

Resource Type
Dataset : Survey and aggregate data
  • Alber, Jens
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • CESSDA Topic Classification:
    • History
    • Social welfare policy and systems
  • Abstract

    The present study on the historical development of social security in western Europe was created as part of the HIWED project (the abbreviation HIWED means: Historical Indicators of the Western European Democracies, Project leader: Wolfgang Zapf and Peter Flora), supported by the Volkswagen Stiftung. The main result is a comprehensive data manual about the political, social, and economic developments of western Europe in the period of 1815 and 1975. Jens Alber’s study with comparative statistics on the historical development of social security in Western European countries in a historical perspective is the ninth chapter of the first volume of the data manual. The focus is the quantitative description of the growth of social spending and of population groups covered by the social programs and services. The data collection includes data on revenues and expenditures of the accident, health, pension and unemployment insurance for 13 Western European countries since the introduction of the programs, as far as they were available in the national statistical yearbooks. The financial data are structured by type of expenditure and revenue categories. The social expenditure ratio is used as a measure of the socio-political efforts of a country.In this measure the social spending are set in relation to the national product (GDP). Finally, the description of changes in membership data (i.e. the group of people who are members of the four social insurances) is another data focus. Aside from collecting data Jens Alber published a macro-sociological study with analyzes of the development of social security in Western Europe. Jens Alber: Income Maintenance: The data manual´s 9th chapter “… presents data on the development of the major public social programmes. ‘Social security’ is defined following the practice of the International Labour Office. It embraces the four social insurance schemes (occupational injuries, health, pension, and unemployment insurance), public health, family allowances, social assistance, benefits to war victims, and the special transfers to civil servants. Data on the coverage of the four social insurance schemes are presented for the period from the introduction of a given type of insurance programme to 1975. Data on the expenditure and receipts of social security programmes are reported for the period from 1949 to 1974. Data are mainly presented country by country, in the form of tables and graphs. The chapter begins, however, with six comparative tables with selected ratios for all 13 countries. The first three of these comparative tables give ratios of various expenditure categories as percentages of gross domestic product (social security expenditure and social insurance and public health expenditure, both including administrative costs; benefit expenditure, excluding these costs for pensions, health, unemployment, and family allowances). The fourth table shows the part taken by public authorities and employers in the financing of social security and the last two of the comparative tables give coverage ratios, i.e. the members of insurance schemes (pension, medical benefit, occupational injuries and unemployment insurance) as a percentage of the labour force. The comparative part is followed by a series of tables and graphs with the national data on social security expenditure, its financing, and coverage of insurance schemes for each country. The first table gives the aggregate amounts of social security and social insurance expenditure, as well as its breakdown according to major programmes (public assistance, family allowances, public health, and the fur insurance schemes for health, pensions, occupational injuries and unemployment). All figures pertain to net expenditure, excluding transfers among single schemes. They refer either to calendar years or – in the case of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom - to financial years ending in the stated calendar year. Expenditures for the single programmes do not add up to the reported total social security expenditure, because the outlays for a war victims and public employees are not included in the tables. Information on the percentage of total social security benefit expenditure spent for public employees, however, is contained in one of the graphs. Total social insurance expenditure corresponds to the sum of the four reported insurance schemes. The tables on the financing of social security report the receipts for total social security and total social insurance for the period from 1949 to 1974, as well as the receipts for the four major social insurance programmes in selected years. In addition to the aggregate figures, the percentage distribution of receipts by source of contribution is given. The three major sources are: insured persons, employers, and public authorities (summing up contributions by central government, receipts from local government bodies and special taxes allocated to social security). The last category, “other”, includes income from capital and contributions classified by the International Labour Office as “other receipts”. The final table on social insurance coverage gives the figures of the members of the four major insurance schemes” (Alber, J., 1983: Income Maintenance, in: Flora, P., u. a., 1983: State, Economy, and Society in Western European 1815 – 1975. Vol. I: The Growth of Mass Democracies and Welfare States; Chapter 9. Frankfurt/Main u. a.: Campus u. a. , S. 453f).
Temporal Coverage
  • 1885-01-01 / 1975-12-31
  • 1885 to 1975
Geographic Coverage
  • Australia (AU)
  • Belgium (BE)
  • Denmark (DK)
  • Germany (DE)
  • Finland (FI)
  • Ireland (IE)
  • Italy (IT)
  • Netherlands (NL)
  • Norway (NO)
  • Sweden (SE)
  • Switzerland (CH)
  • United Kingdom (GB)
  • Western Europe: 13 European Countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kindom in their respective borders of the investigation period between 1885 and 1975.
Data and File Information
  • Number of Variables: 1399
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
All metadata from GESIS DBK are available free of restriction under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. However, GESIS requests that you actively acknowledge and give attribution to all metadata sources, such as the data providers and any data aggregators, including GESIS. For further information see
Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8393 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Alber, J., 1983: Income Maintenance, in: Flora, P., u. a., 1983: State, Economy, and Society in Western European 1815 – 1975. Vol. I: The Growth of Mass Democracies and Welfare States; Chapter 9. Frankfurt/Main u. a.: Campus u. a. , S. 452 - 551. (Datenfile in histat)

Update Metadata: 2021-04-07 | Issue Number: 19 | Registration Date: 2015-07-29