1. Why are manual laborers, more than others, exposed to sickness, accidents, and death?

2. Just how expensive, both from the individual and the social viewpoint, is each of these forms of disability?

3. How does it happen that such a large proportion of old people are more or less dependent ?

4. Why does not the normal individual guard himself more carefully against accident and sickness?

5. Can the typical American workman afford to carry any great ' amount of life or accident insurance ? Why, or why not ?

6. Why should society undertake the protection of individuals?

7. Why is charity inadequate?

8. Just how does society guarantee a minimum to every individual member?

9. Why should society as a whole replace machines and not men?

10. What influence did the autocratic government of Germany have on the development of social insurance among the Germans ?

11. In what particular respects does the English plan of social insurance differ from the German plan ?

12. What are the outstanding features of accident insurance?

13. Why has social insurance developed slowly in the United States ?

14. Just to what extent have we gone?


1. Call to mind any financial distress which you have observed caused by accident or illness.

a. To what extent was the laborer responsible for his own accident or illness?

b. Did he carry accident or sickness insurance? What kind?

c. Was he a member of a fraternal order? Which?

d. Did his employer aid him? How?

e. Did his trade union assist him financially?

f. How far, if at all, was he aided by organized charity ?

2. Investigate any organized effort that is being made in your community to help the poor and unfortunate.

a. What are the sources of financial support?

i. To what extent, if at all, are these funds raised by taxation ? ii. Enumerate other methods of raising funds (tag days, etc.). 6. What is the attitude of the people who are helped ? c. How is pauperization prevented?

3. Name the various agencies in your community which extend financial assistance to the distressed.

a. Which are religious in nature ?

b. Which emphasize personal visitation?

c. Which have membership dues?

d. Which are purely philanthropic?

4. Inquire as to the general attitude of your older acquaintances toward the county or other public almshouse.

a. Does any stigma attach to its occupants? Why, or why not?

b. Does any one take the view that it is merely a method of guaranteeing a minimum subsistence to each member of society? Who?

c. What is the viewpoint of the occupants themselves ?

5. Look about for other means of extending financial assistance to the incapacitated: a. Public hospitals.

b. Government pensions.

c. State and federal houses for disabled soldiers and sailors.

d. State institutions for the unfortunate.

e. Old people's homes maintained by fraternal organizations. May we consider these as forms of social insurance ? Why, or why not?


1. The assertion is often made that each individual usually has it in his own power to provide against the dependency of old age by saving systematically during his productive years.

a. Might the typical American workman be more frugal ? How ?

b. What other factor is necessary in saving ?

c. Calculate the annual saving necessary for 40 years to insure an income of $300 a year at the age of 60 on a six per cent basis.

2. One of the best-known American cartoonists showed recently the attitude taken by men engaged in hazardous occupations. A structural steel worker standing on a narrow beam twenty floors above the street and an aeroplane pilot in his machine a thousand feet above, each observing the other, remarked how foolish some men were in taking risks. Why did each minimize his own risk and magnify the risk of the other?

3. Suppose that society should devise some plan whereby house painters would be insured by the public against accident, sickness, old-age dependence, and unemployment.

a. Would the number of house painters tend to increase or decrease ? Why ?

b. How would the wages of house painters be affected ?

c. What would be the probable effect on the cost of painting a house ?

d. In what way, if at all, would taxes be affected?

e. Would a plumber's income be changed as a result? How?

4. Would you class the following as forms of social insurance: a. Government pensions?

b. Free treatment in railroad hospitals?

c. State aid for the blind ?

d. Insane hospitals?

e. Retiring allowances to aged preachers? f. Teachers' pensions?

g. Payments from a firemen's pension fund?

Supplementary Reading

Ely, Outlines of Economics, 3d ed., pages 57, 587-595.

Fetter, Economics, Vol. II, pages 349-365.

Seager, Principles of Economics, pages 598-612.

Taussig, Principles of Economics, 2d ed., Vol. II, pages 323-345.