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Membership in Mutual Health Insurance Societies: The Case of Swedish Manufacturing, circa 1900

Maria Stanfors (), Tobias Karlsson (), Lars-Fredrik Andersson and Liselotte Eriksson
Additional contact information
Maria Stanfors: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Tobias Karlsson: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Lars-Fredrik Andersson: Unit of Economic History, Umeå University
Liselotte Eriksson: Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University

No 238, Lund Papers in Economic History from Lund University, Department of Economic History

Abstract: Industrialization brought significant economic and social changes. As a response to the risk of income loss due to illness and workplace accidents, mutual health insurance was the main financial vehicle for workers at the turn of the twentieth century across the Western world. We studied individual and firm-level determinants of membership in health insurance societies among male workers in Swedish manufacturing by using matched employer-employee data from the tobacco, printing, and mechanical engineering ndustries. Such data are extremely rare but important for our purpose. They cover all workers (i.e., members and non-members) and firms in a specific year around 1900 (N>12,000). In the years before the first statutory attempts to improve working conditions, we find remarkably high rates of membership, especially in mechanical engineering. We also find an association between membership and age, which is mainly a difference between younger and older adults, but the societies’ egalitarian pricing gave workers no reason to defer enrolment until a higher age related to health problems. Social interaction may explain early membership in the printing and tobacco industries, where we find a positive association between membership among older workers and the enrolment of younger workers.

Keywords: health; health insurance; adverse selection; mutual aid societies; micro data; matched employer-employee data; labour markets; manufacturing industry; industrialization; Sweden; 19th century; 20th century (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I13 N33 N63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 pages
Date: 2022-03-15
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban, nep-hea, nep-his, nep-ias and nep-lab
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