Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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pauperized, and wherever it was possible persons of the same type
were attracted to the places which had the largest common fund.^
The richest city of Switzerland, Basel, has relatively the largest
number of dependents. In the well-to-do city of Zurich, as the re-
port of 1861 said, those districts which had the largest poor fund
had the most poor. The Zurich administration in 1865 gave as one
of the causes of increasing poverty "the existence in certain com-
munes of communal properties on which many a young man relies
instead of seeking to advance his interests elsewhere." In the Can-
ton Bern, between 1840-50, a commission declared : "The highest
numbers of dependents in proportion to the number of citizens is :
(i) In the city parishes where large poor funds foster the careless-
ness of the poor; (2) in communes where the common estates are
relatively greatest; (3) in communes where the greatest gratuitous
enjoyments are furnished; (4) in communes where the situation is
most unfavorable for opportunities of employment." The states-
man, Blosch, of Bern, said : "It is a fact that everywhere where

^ V. Bohmert (in Emminghaus, Armenwesen, p. 468).



there are the largest incomes from common estates there is most
indolence, laziness and shunning of labor."

But since the resident poor must be provided for at home if they
were not to be compelled to wander elsewhere to beg, the cantons
gradually advanced from merely repressive measures to positive
assistance, at first depending entirely on voluntary gifts for the
sources of relief, and slowly adding means from regular revenues.
In the year of 1551 Baden legally adopted the principle that every
locality should support its own indigent people, and the German
cantons (with the exception of Basel), during the Reformation period
developed a civil system of poor-relief. The French cantons and
Basel continued to depend on legacies and voluntary contributions.
In recent times even some of the French cantons have followed the
same plan; as Freiburg in 1869, Waadtland in 1898, Neuenburg in
1889, and the Bernese Jura in 1897; so that now only Geneva and
the city of Basel are without public relief organization, and Basel
is moving in the same direction. Generally where there is public
relief its privileges are quite rigidly confined to citizens, and when
one who possesses full civic rights moves to another canton or coun-
try he retains his claim to relief from the place of legal settlement.
There being no legal provision for foreigners these must be aided by
voluntary charity, and the number of such cases is considerable.

Lazes of Settlement. — In a country like America where men
travel freely, settle where they like, and generally soon acquire all
the rights of the place of residence, it is somewhat difficult to imagine
the traditions and customs of Switzerland where ancient ideas have
still deep influence. One custom which has long had legal force is
that of reserving for local citizenship the right to receive relief in
time of need. This right was inherited from a line of ancestors who
have shared the fortunes of the commune, or who have purchased the
right to a place in the ranks of the population, or who have been ac-
cepted by formal action. It was difficult to gain admission to those
privileges, and the rights would follow a citizen even if he moved to
another region. This is the principle of local cithenship (Ortsbiirg-
ergenossenschaftsrecht). It is manifest that this legal arrangement
would become more and more unsatisfactory under modern industrial
conditions which require men to travel and reside in various parts of
the country as their employments change. A different principle is
that of territorial right to poor-relief, according to which the mere



fact of residence in a place gives rise to a claim, without any formal
adoption into the ranks of the association of ancient families. Thus
Bern, in 1857, rn^de a law which required the communes to give
poor-relief on the basis of residence and not as a citizen's right ; and
relief on the basis of local citizenship might be retained only in com-
munes which were able to cover the entire expense of relief ; and the
number of such communes has steadily decreased. In 1901 only 13
such existed, the city of Bern being one. The obligation to give poor-
reHef was limited to citizens resident in the township. A distinction
was made between those who require continuous relief (Nofanneii)
and those who require only temporary relief (Diirftigen). The
regular paupers were to be formally accepted and permanently listed,
while the transient paupers were treated as casual. Regular pau-
pers were to be assisted out of the income from certain fees and
the products of community property, with a subsidy from the state ;
while the relief of transient indigents was left in the main to organ-
ized private charity {Spendgut und Krankengut) .

The law of 1857 revealed defects in the course of administration;
the relief of transient poor was not adequate, since the sources were
too meager. In the Bernese Jura district the customary voluntary
charity of the commune was retained. In 1S97 a new law was en-
acted governing relief and settlement, the ground having been care-
fully prepared by the thorough investigation of Ritchard, Director
of Poor-Relief. By this law poor-relief in the entire canton is
placed under uniform regulations, and the Jura region is included
in its provisions. Adjustments are made for the period of transi-
tion. All residents in the territory are entitled to relief and the terms
of settlement are fixed. Residence {Wohnsitz) is the condition of
sharing in the relief. Residence implies taking a dwelling with the
purpose of remaining in the place. Members of a community share
the rights of settlement ( Unterstiitcungszvohnsitc) according to cer-
tain rules. Registration for settlement is not accorded without con-
ditions ; it can be made dependent on having a dwelling or something
equivalent. The person may be excluded when he becomes a per-
manent burden on public relief and when the home commune, in spite
of official notification, does not provide adequate support. Relief is
an obligation of the commune of residence, with the provision that
it is entitled, if the person relieved has not lived two full years in the
commune, to demand of the former commune of residence repayment


of the costs. When a citizen of a canton leaves its territory with
the purpose of residing elsewhere, then for two years from the time
when he departs he retains his former settlement. In certain cases
part of the cost is paid by the state. In the new law the state has
been made responsible in a greater degree for equalizing the burden
of poor-relief by taxing income in proportion to ability, and distrib-
uting funds in proportion to need. Close organization has been ef-
fected and placed under supervision and control. The distinction
between permanent and transient paupers is retained, and there are
separate sources of relief, the permanent paupers being supplied from
fees and income from domains, and the temporary indigent from
voluntary contributions. But a significant change is here to be
noted : The state gives a subsidy for the permanent paupers of
60 to 70 per cent, of what is lacking in a commune, and voluntary
gifts may be supplemented when necessary by the commune and the
state. In case the income from free gifts, legacies, fines, repayments,
etc., are not sufficient, and the commune must pay additions out of
its treasury, then the state grants a subsidy of 40 to 50 per cent,
for the adults and 60 to 70 per cent, for children. Relief of out-
siders includes persons who reside in Switzerland but outside of
their own cantons and are citizens of communes which have local
(ortliche) relief; and these are to be assisted out of the voluntary
fund (Spcndkasse) during two years from their departure from their
former residence. On the contrary, paupers who are absent more
than two years and have not already been relieved or have not been
excluded on account of being dependent, are helped by the state from
its fund for strangers. The expenditure of the state for the tran-
sient indigent in the old canton is reckoned at 205,000 fr., for the
new at 39,500 fr., and for the relief of non-residents at 150,000 fr.
The state takes a large share in the indoor relief, maintains institu-
tions which for technical reasons can be better erected by the state,
but to which the communes have to contribute. The entire state ex-
penditures for poor-relief are estimated at 2,000,000 fr., of which
50,000 fr. go to expenses of administration.

The law prohibits the placing of children of school age in poor-
houses. Care for such children, which may be either moral or finan-
cial, is continued during the time they should be at school. Chil-
dren under 16 years of age may, if neglected, be placed by the Coun-
cil of Administration under agents of compulsory education. Super-



vision is exercised by the Directory of Poor-Relief in connection with
the cantonal poor commission which has two instructors, one for out-
door and the other for institutional relief.

Reform of Poor Law in Zurich. — In 1901 the authorities were
at work on a new poor law. The impulse toward new legislation
came from the commune of Hedingen, a suburb of Zurich, in 1892,
which desired to introduce the territorial principle instead of the local
civil principle in poor-relief. The request was referred by the can-
tonal council to a commission, which, after six years of preparation,
on May 19, 1899, proposed a draft for a poor law which sought to
meet the wishes of Hedingen. The draft was accompanied with
an explanation of reasons, many general considerations, citations
from literature, especially of Germany, and much statistical ma-
terial. The draft which even in the commission had a minority of
opponents was not acceptable to the cantonal council. In Zurich
the principle has been accepted that when the poor tax becomes too
heavy (beyond i per cent.) in a commune, the canton is to give
relief and equalize the burden. Inequalities are illustrated by these
facts (1898) : While the city of Zurich paid out 281,568 fr. to aid
1,283 persons, and received nothing from the state; Urdorff spent
8,233 fr. on 59 poor and received a state subsidy of 5,946 fr. ; Hoeugg,
with "^2 paupers and an expenditure of 10,100 fr., had only 133 fr.
from the state. The chief city of the canton of Zurich occupies a
favorable position in comparison with most other communities, both
in respect to income from taxes and means to supplement public
relief. In the report of 1899 the entire number of persons assisted
was 1,283, most of whom were permanent charges; the expenditure
was 281,568 fr., a small part for transient paupers, and most of it,
172,542 fr., for aged persons and defectives, and 93,932 fr. for chil-

The Federal Government. — The earlier federal law permitted
cantons to refuse settlement to those who were not able to prove
ability to support themselves and their families, and to send away
those immigrants who became dependent. This arrangement gave
rise to many hardships as travel increased, and it contradicted the
sense of federal citizenship. The federal constitution of 1874 (art.
45) restricted this power of the canton and secured greater freedom
of change of residence to citizens ; and under this article cantons
are permitted to refuse settlement only to those who are permanently



dependent and whose home community refuses needed relief after
official notification. A pauper may not be removed to his former
home without notice to the authorities. An exception is made only
in case of cantons which have adopted the territorial system of relief ;
and here permission to settle may be conditioned on proof that the
immigrant is able to earn his support and has not been dependent
in his former place of residence.

In earlier times, when the local responsibility for support was the
rule, the localities sought to protect themselves against surplus popu-
lation by making marriage difficult, and sometimes the authorities
would refuse to give a license to marry. This custom led to much
illegitimacy and it has been abolished by modern legislation. Article
54 of the federal constitution guarantees freedom of marriage to
all citizens.

A federal law of 1875 regulates inter-cantonal poor-relief by
requiring a canton to assist citizens of another canton who fall sick
or cannot be returned to the place of settlement without injury to
health. The relief must include care, medical treatment and, in
case of death, a decent burial. A repayment of expenditures is made
only when the needy person or his relatives have means ; but the
funds and institutions of the place of settlement are not liable. The
same obligation rests on the cantons in relation to the case of for-
eigners, whenever the Federation has treaties of reciprocity, as with
Austria-Hungary, Germany, Italy, France and Belgium.

Direct aid from the Federation is unimportant. In the Swiss sta-
tistics of relief given, under a law of 1874, to invalid soldiers, or
those left by them dependent, the aid given is something half-way
between a state pension and poor-relief. In 1890, 41 transient and
225 permanent indigents received about 70,000 fr. in this way. The
Federation also expends upon benevolent societies in other countries
about 23,600 fr., in addition to 20,500 fr. from the cantons. The aid
societies supported in 1890 altogether 27,260 persons, at a cost of
245,220 fr. The Federation places at the disposal of the cantons
financial means in the so-called "alcohol tithe," which in part goes to

Reforms of Poor Lazvs. — Christinger, in a report to the Benevo-
lent Society in 1899 spoke of the prospects for changes in the law :
"The hour for a Swiss poor law has not yet arrived. Other legis-
lative tasks occupy the attention of the Federation and will do so for a


long time. The constitution must be changed to enable the legis-
lature to act in this field. The cantons must continue to go forward
independently in this matter, so far as they are not restricted by fed-
eral laws already enacted. It is not necessary that they shall pro-
ceed in exactly the same manner, but it is desirable that they make
progress and meet the needs of the time and, naturally, they will ap-
proach the same forms." As progressive and suitable measures he
mentions : Guaranty of relief as in the German poor law, not on
complaint of the party, but by administrative action ; the obligation
of the place of residence to furnish relief provisionally until a reckon-
ing can be made with the place of legal settlement; the equalization
of the burden by means of state contributions ; the authorization of
the communes to cover deficits by taxes ; and a voluntary charity so
organized as to meet the defects of the regular poor-relief.

B. Administration. — Switzerland is a federation of cantons,
each of which retains a high degree of independence in legislation,
and there is naturally a great variety of methods and regulations not
only of cantons but also of different localities in the same canton.
The measures used in rural neighborhoods differ from those found
suitable for cities and towns.

The Canton. — There is a tendency to equalize the burden of
relief by the aid given to poorer communes from the larger area of
cantons. In Bern, Zurich, Aargau, Thurgau and lately in Basel
the subsidies of the cantons are considerable, while in Zug, St. Gall
and elsewhere they are limited in amount, and in Geneva and Ap-
penzell entirely wanting. In some cases the state aids certain
charitable societies or supports institutions, as those for the insane,
hospitals, and asylums in which the indigent of the canton are re-
ceived gratuitously or at low cost. Sometimes direct aid is given
to particular forms of relief, as for the blind, deaf mutes, insane,
feeble minded, and dependent children.

The canton of Aargau contributed in 1896 the sum of 53,523 fr.,
of which 13,762 fr. were for needy communes, 8,960 fr. for direct
poor-relief, and 30,800 fr. for benevolent societies and institutions.
The cantonal institutions and poor-relief gave 56,959 fr. The canton
also pays physicians of the poor, and subsidizes institutions for the
insane and deaf mutes, and the work-house.

Neuenburg (law of 1889) aids the communes when the burden
is unduly heavy. Cantonal institutions are supplied for the sick;



but those for the defectives are inadequate. When special technical
considerations enter or a large outlay is necessary the cantons gen-
erally assume the task.

The local assembly (Amtsvcrsammlung) constitutes a medium
between the commune and the administration. Poor-inspectors are
appointed for larger areas, but their activity is not a part of a regu-
lar function.

Relatively severe penalties are provided for certain transfers and
neglect of the duty of relief, and the grant of state subsidies is con-
ditioned on the observance of legal requirements on the part of the
local officials. In addition to the relief of residents that of citizens
of the commune is retained in so far as the commune can show that
it can support all its poor who live outside its bounds. Practically
this requirement is significant for the city of Bern and also for

Outside of Bern the only canton which has introduced the ter-
ritorial principle and obligatory poor-relief is the canton of Neuen-
burg (law of 1888). The duty of relief is extended to cover all
citizens of the commune who reside in the commune, and all who are
of the same canton in other communes. The principle of local com-
munity obligation is only so far retained as that relief of citizens who
dwell outside the canton remains a duty of the home commune ; but
in this case obligation is limited to receiving back their poor who be-
come a charge elsewhere. In this canton obligatory relief applies
only to permanent paupers, with whom the sick are counted.

Method and Measure of Relief. — While free play is given by the
law to the authorities in respect to the limits of their activities, yet as a
rule in practice these boards have restricted their aid to the regular
paupers (Notarmen), i. e., those who are for the time or permanently
incapable of labor (orphans and dependent children, old people, in-
valids, defectives, sick) ; and during the last ten years this limitation
has been formulated in rules. This does not entirely exclude assist-
ance to persons able to work if they have become dependent from
any cause ; but such aid is not ordinarily regarded as obligatory. If
the person aided comes into possession of means he is expected to
repay what has been given him ; and relatives who are able to assist
are first called upon to bear the burden ; although the rules vary in
the different cantons. The chief form of affording help is that of
assistance to needy families in their homes ; but it is becoming very


common to help orphans by boarding them in famiHes, Care by
means of boarding around is in some cantons employed and in
others forbidden. The care of children called farm care is dimin-
ishing. Relief in institutions is most common in case of the insane,
sick, orphans, and also very generally with the aged, invalid and
feeble minded. Communal poorhouses are more common in the
northeast part of Switzerland. Regulations in respect to compulsory
measures against paupers who refuse to submit to the requirements
of the poor law, and against persons who decline to help their poor
relations, or who make themselves dependent through frivolity or
vice, are made in most of the cantons ; and as a rule these compulsory
means may go as far as confinement in the work-house, house of cor-
rection or prison, so that their required labor may be utilized ; and
temporary loss of civil rights may be added. In particular points
the laws in respect to the range and order of compulsory measures
and the procedure differ widely from each other. Several com-
munes, including Bern itself, the principal city, have made use of
the provision of the new law to free themselves from the legal public
relief obligations. This is allowed on condition that the commune
supports its own dependent citizens at home or elsewhere out of its
own means. The entire income of the Poor Property in the com-
munes of the old part of the canton was 19,500,000 fr., of the new
part of the canton 4,000,000 fr., of which Bern city had 15,500,000
fr,, Burgdorf 2,100,000 and Thun 1,350,000 fr. The total number
of persons aided in the canton of Bern in 1899 was 16,840, of whom
7,258 were children and 9,582 adults. The cost for them was 1,700,-
000 fr., of which two-thirds went to adults and one-third to children.
The voluntary contributions were 366,000 fr. The communes gave
550,000 fr. and the state gave 826,000 fr. or nearly one-half. In the
case of the temporary dependents, who numbered over 6,000, the
aid given was 438,400 fr., and the state added 161,000 fr. The re-
lief of settled citizens (burgerliche Armenpflege) was given to 2,550
permanent and 2,159 temporary indigents, in all 4,709, at a cost of
632,020 fr. In addition the state gave out of the product of the
alcohol monopoly tithe 40,000 fr. for the support of benevolent in-
stitutions, chiefly for the care and education of children.

The results of the new poor law, which had to reckon with a great
increase of indigents entitled to relief in other communes or cantons,
were apparent in the increase of expense for poor-relief outside.


Those who were sent back to their homes must be aided in institu-
tions, which costs double what it would to aid them in their homes.
In 1897 the expense for 3,143 indigents was 211,000 fr., and in 1899
the figures rose to 295,570 fr. for 3,543 paupers. The average ex-
pense rose from 60 fr. in 1895 to 83.40 fr. in 1899.

Inspectors. — Of special importance is the "Inspectorate," to
which great significance was attached from the beginning in intro-
ducing and carrying through the law. A distinction is made between
the cantonal poor inspector and the district inspector. The principal
duties of the cantonal inspector are to carefully follow all events in
the field of poor-relief and direct his attention to all which gives
promise of improvement or the removal of defects and evils and to
make proposals for betterment in the various localities. Such inspec-
tion had already been made here and there in the case of non-resident
paupers who were aided by the state, especially in the cantons of
Solothurn and Zurich, and to some extent in Zug and Lucerne. The
official made it his task to examine carefully to see whether the aid
given was in harmony with the needs of the indigents. This was
not always found to be true. Not seldom the circumstances of an
assisted family had become more easy in the course of time, so that
a reduction or an entire withdrawal of the relief could be made. On
the other side the inspector found cases where the family had come
into a harder condition, and the former aid was not adequate and
should be raised. The inspector gave a brief report to the di-
rectory of each case and made such suggestions of change as he
thought to be wise. In the report a long series of examples are
given of instances in which the intervention of the inspector was use-
ful. The district inspectors are required to consider the formation
of the budget and by inspection of individual cases at home to sat-
isfy themselves that the law is properly applied and the aid given is
suitable. In the report for 1899 the inspectors for the first time gave
in their report of this house inspection and their account to the di-
rectory of poor-relief. The report was to cover cases of those who
were boarded out or cared for themselves. A book had to be kept
for each person. In order to make this easier for the inspector an
extra inspection book was furnished for each one in which the local
clerks wrote down the names of each pauper and the name of the
almoner and the place of relief.

Zurich. — An illustration of an evil felt in many countries may be


taken from a case in Zurich, in a case of removal of a pauper. A
poor woman was refused help in the commune and went to a com-
mune where she had formerly resided. This commune gave the

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 16 of 73)