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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income of less than 2,000 marks. The benefits may be extended by
regulations to foremen with a higher income and to small capitalists
in building trades and farming. The form of organization is a trade
society, with special organizations for state industries. In 1898 there
were 113 trade associations, with 5,100,000 industrial plants and
16,700,000 persons interested. The premiums are paid entirely by
the employers on the basis of the yearly cost divided according to the
number of employes and the estimated rate of liability to accident in
each calling. The benefits given to the injured are: free treatment
and accident payments up to 66 2-3 per cent, of the annual wages ; or,
free treatment in a hospital and payment to the family of a sum not
more than 60 per cent, of the wages rate. Payments begin with the
end of the thirteenth week. In case of death a payment equal to 20
times a day's wages is made, and further payments not more than 60
per cent of wages. Disputes are settled without cost by a court and
by the imperial insurance office. The employers and workmen are
equally represented in the hearing.

Invalidism and Old Age. — The compulsory law was enacted in
1889 and 1899. All wage workers and employes with an annual in-
come under 2,000 marks are included. Small capitalists and house
workers are also included ; and voluntary use may be made of the of-
fice by those workmen who are not under the compulsory law. The
form of organization is a territorial insurance institution, with special
kinds of funds for employes of state railroads and mines. The pre-
miums are paid one-half by the employers and one-half by the em-
ployes ; while the imperial government adds an arbitrary lump sum of
50 marks annually to each account. The benefits are : (a) payments
for those unable to work, — after they have contributed premiums for
200 weeks ; (b) old age pensions for those who have passed 70 years,
— if they have been contributors for 1,200 weeks ; (c) free treatment,
together with aid to the family, in order to prevent permanent invalid-
ism ; (d) repayment of premiums in case of death or of marriage be-


fore the right to receive pensions is secured. The sum expended in
1898 was 130,000,000 marks for invalidism and 140,000,000 marks
for old age pensions, — an average of 200 marks for each person.
The disputes are decided by a court and by the imperial insurance
office, the workmen and employers being equtilly represented.

There is a disposition in America and Great Britain to look upon
the German insurance system as merely poor-relief disguised in a
form more agreeable to the wage earners. But, even if there be a
humanitarian motive in the scheme, it differs in certain vital and
essential points from poor-relief and private charity. A character-
istic difference lies in the fact that the insurance system compels all
wage workers to save a part of their wages for the future, and this
is not done by any legal system of poor-relief. In the case of acci-
dent insurance the payment of risk by the employers is merely an act
of social justice, a method of distributing the burden among con-
sumers who reap all the enjoyments of the sufferings and losses of
the disabled workingmen. In the case of sickness insurance, it is
also just that the burden be in part distributed, since the causes of
disease are, in great part, social neglect and ignorance, and the fault
does not lie wholly with the laborers. The nearest approach to
charity is in the moderate subsidy given to the old age pension by
the state; but here again social obligations and interests justify the
burden upon taxpayers. The cost is not great considered even as a
military pension, since every able-bodied German citizen is obliged to
serve a term in the army almost without pay and be ready at any
moment to lay down his life for his country. Property, which would
have little value in a land surrounded by armed nations, some of them
not excessively friendly, can easily afford to carry this slight cost.

Influence of Insurance on Public and Private Relief. — The time
has not arrived for a final judgment on this point. Longer experi-
ence and fuller knowledge of all pertinent facts are necessary. That
the experiment, on the whole, has been successful in this respect
seems to be made fairly certain by the following considerations.^

^ The influence of insurance on charity has been carefully watched and con-
stantly discussed by German experts in poor relief. Among other important
contributions to this subject are:

L. Zeitlin : Fiirst Bismarcks social-, wirth- und steuerpolitische Anschauungen,
p. Ill ff. — H. von Poschinger: Fiirst Bismarck als Volkswirth, 3 Bd., and
Aktenstiicke zur Wirthschaftspolitik des Fiirsten Bismarck (2 Bd.). — John
Graham Brooks, Fourth Special Report of the Commissioner of Labor on Com-



It was hoped by the friends of the measure that it would tend
to diminish dependence upon charity by providing a fund in advance
for the emergencies of Hfe, for those moments of special stress when
the individual is powerless in presence of a combination of unfavor-
able forces. The promotion of thrift was the fundamental reason
for establishing the system. It was hoped that the spirit of associa-
tion in mutual benefit societies would be promoted. It seemed
natural to expect that dislike to be regarded as an object of charity
would be made more intense and that it would become less customary
and reputable to live at the expense of the community. It was ex-
pected that the increased security of life would tend to bind the
industrial persons to their country, would increase their efficiency
as producers, and would give a more sure guaranty of order and
peace which are so necessary to the continuous and most successful
operations of manufacture and commerce. It was believed that both
governments and employers, under this system, would be more care-
ful to protect the health of workmen and so extend their years of
industrial productivity. It was never expected that the system of
insurance of workers could be made to protect the non-workers and
defectives; and these must ever remain the proper subjects of public
or private relief. Where the family is excessively large no system
of insurance devised for normal situations will be adequate. Con-
flagrations, floods, epidemics and financial catastrophes may disturb
the working of the best instrumentalities. The entire abolition of
pauperism and of charity is a dream of visionaries. In view of the
history of this imperial experiment what is the verdict of experience?
Have the hopes of the prophetic founders been fulfilled ?

The Insurance System Tends to Improve Health, Strength and
Productivity. — Prior to the introduction of the new laws a wage
earner would naturally defer consulting a physician as long as pos-
sible, for he must individually bear the expense; and when he was
barely able to walk he would return to the factory or mill, because
his family were wholly dependent on his earnings for their existence.
But now the worker goes to the physician, as his right and duty, at
the first indications of disease, and this promptness in seeking relief
multiplies the chances of speedy cure and diminishes liability to in-
curable sickness. The hospital benefit and the indemnity to the

pulsory Insurance in Germany. — Die Schriften des Deutschen Vereins fiir Armen-
pflege und Wohlthatigkeit, 1895. — Zeit. f. d. Armenwesen, May, 1903, p. 143.


family roll the burden from the heart of the breadwinner in his days
of weakness and enable him to remain under treatment until wasted
tissues are rebuilt and energy returns. There are fewer widows with
fatherless children dependent on the poor fund, and fewer poor sick
persons to relieve.

It is a fact of common observation and record that the means of
preventing accident and disease have been greatly improved, because
the employers now have a direct interest in diminishing payments
for accident and sickness insurance premiums. It has been found
more economical to build up enfeebled men in sanatoria and restore
them to useful labor than to support them in helpless idleness. The
consequence is that a new and more robust type of workingman is
coming into existence, a finer soldier and a more effective agent of
production of w'ealth.

One of the most encouraging signs of success is the reduction
of the cost of pauper burials in consequence of insurance ; first, be-
cause the family is not so wretchedly impoverished by long illness
which precedes the death, and largely also because the spirit of asso-
ciation which has become universal provides burial funds through
voluntary societies. There is a growing sentiment which favors
avoidance of poor law burials, a fine proof that the tendency of the
system is to build up a manly spirit of independence and of social

In spite of the increased cost of food and rent, industrial depres-
sions, bad harvests, severe winters, strikes, floods and epidemics in
the years following the introduction of the new system it was strong
enough to weather the storm and yield its happy results.

The rapid growth of urban manufacture has thronged the cities
where pauperism and crime tend most to increase. Under ordinary
conditions a positive increase of dependency should be expected.
But, — and it is believed largely in consequence of the insurance
laws, — this increase has not occurred ; and many experts claim a posi-
tive reduction, both absolute and relative, in the amount of pauperism.

In Berlin, between 1883 and 1890, the number of dependents de-
creased from 1.29 per cent, to 1.21 per cent, of population. Figures
for Barmen, Dortmund, Elberfeld, and Erfurt showed similar de-
crease of the burden of poor-relief. While a temporary rise occurred
in consequence of the crisis of 1893 and the great increase of popula-
tion in cities, this seemed to be a transient phenomenon.



The amount paid for poor-relief has not decreased, since the rates
per person are higher on account of higher prices for commodities ;
but that there has not been an increase in numbers in spite of the rapid
growth of industrial centers is enough to indicate that insurance has
arrested the tendency to increase of pauperism.

While the system has not yet been extended to insurance in favor
of widows and orphans, one direct result of accident insurance has
been to reduce the number of those who appeal for public relief. In
Berlin, between 1883 and 1890, the decline was from 0.34 per cent,
of population to 0.29 per cent.

There is close cooperation between the administration of insur-
ance and that of relief. In giving relief the subsidies from the in-
surance funds are counted as part of the resources of the applicant
for charitable aid. Whenever an annuity is granted by the invalidism
or pension fund a notice is sent at once to the office of the poor



The charities of Austria-Hungary present a remarkable juxta-
position of mediaeval survivals and modern innovations in the midst
of customs that are German, Magyar, Sclavic, Italian and Greek.
Very few statements could be made that would be true of the charities
of the Empire as a whole. Not only do Austria and Hungary differ
from each other but within Austria itself several districts are distinct.
First, western and northwestern Austria have a legal and social de-
velopment like that of Germany, but with features that are charac-
teristically Austrian. Turning to the southwest we come to prov-
inces including Dalmatia, Kuestenland and southern Tyrol, the chari-
ties of which have shared the historic development of Italy. Here
the religious brotherhoods have continued to be the significant
agency. A third set of conditions is presented by the northeastern
provinces of Galicia and Bukowina. This region is divided between
nobles and poor peasants. Cities and the commercial and industrial
development that bridges the gulf between the ancient social extremes
are for the most part wanting. Regular poor-relief is absent save
in a few cities, and a very little which is in the hands of religious so-
cieties. The lines between Catholics and Protestants are sharply
drawn. Finally, in the Grecian provinces of the south care of the
poor is in a backward state.

In the middle ages such established care of the poor as existed
was in the name of "Christian charity," issued from the cloister and
the church, and was administered by ecclesiastical brotherhoods.
The first governmental efforts in this field aimed to direct and organ-
ize this voluntary activity. In the western provinces the brother-
hoods were suspended, but parish priests were recognized as being,
for the purposes of poor-relief, civil officers. This new form of



clerical poor-relief (Pharrarmen-institute) became one of the char-
acteristic features of German Austria. The practice which origi-
nated in 1782 still survives, and influences existing methods even in
places where it has been superseded. The original intention was
that the necessary means should be for the most part provided by
voluntary subscriptions and by collections at church and from house
to house. Joseph II. prescribed certain supplements to these re-
sources, including especially one-half of the property of the brother-
hoods and gilds which had been suspended. The aid, under this
system of Pharrarmen-institute, was originally given in cash and
without regard to legal residence, except in cases requiring perma-
nent support This encouraged an army of traveling beggars, which
by the middle of the sixteenth century had become such a nuisance
as to evoke strenuous protests. And in 1789 a royal order was issued
to the effect that a poor person might claim a share in the aid pro-
vided in a given place only if he had lived in that place for ten years
consecutively, and that other applicants were to be referred to their
places of birth.

A. The law of 1863, which was valid until recently, did not relax
the severity due to this old revulsion of feeling. It enacted that legal
residence could be acquired only by birth or by marriage, widows and
divorced women to retain the settlement right of their quondam
husbands ; by holding public office, including the offices of pastor and
public teacher ; or by formal admission into citizenship on terms en-
tirely at the discretion of the municipality. It provided further that
only legal residents of a given state could be legal residents of any
municipality within that state, and that every legal resident of a state
should have settlement in some municipality within it. But it was
often a matter of uncertainty and delay to determine to what mu-
nicipality a person should be assigned. The legal residence of a child
was not the place of its birth, but the legal residence of its father.
Therefore, to establish the place of residence it was necessary to
ascertain the settlement of the father and of the grandfather.
All this involved a probatio diaholica, a delay which might involve
the starvation of the subject, and a heavy expenditure of money with-
out affording relief. In the end the person might be assigned to a
residence totally foreign to him in language. Persons were "sent
home" in a way that violated recognized principles of freedom of
travel and settlement, that impaired the remaining power of self-


support of those only partially dependent, and that increased inter-
national friction within the empire. Legal residence became a privi-
lege of the well-to-do. In 1869, 25.5 per cent, of the inhabitants of
Austrian municipalities had not legal residence where they lived ; in
1880, 41.2 per cent, lacked it, and in 1890, 53.60 per cent. In rural
districts the proportion of those without legal residence was smaller.
Thus in Galicia in the years mentioned the proportions of those lack-
ing legal residence where they lived were 7.3, 10.5, and 16.2 per cent.,
and in Dalmatia 4.2, 5.8, and 6.8 per cent. On the other hand in
1890 in all the cities and in three of the provinces the number of those
lacking legal residence where they lived exceeded those having it.
In Vienna 65.2 of the population lacked it; in Prague 74.7 per cent.;
in Marburg a. D. 85.7 per cent., that is, 6 to i. One of the smaller
municipalities had 583 legal residents and 33,948 non-residents, an-
other 387 legal residents and 40,849 non-residents. People flocking
to the cities filled them with inhabitants who under the existing law
could not acquire legal residence.

The whole question of legal residence is an affair of imperial
legislation. But the individual provinces had power to suspend the
ecclesiastical administration of public relief and to transfer it to
political officers, and this many of them have done ; Lower Austria
in 1870, Upper Austria in 1869, Carinthia in 1870, Carniola in 1883,
Silesia in 1869. Not until 1896 was provision made for any easier
change of legal residence, and the cities seeing themselves threatened
with sudden responsibility for the mass of their non-resident paupers
exerted themselves to see to it that the terms of the new law should
be none too easy. The law of 1896 provides that a citizen of any
province of the empire has the right to claim legal residence in a given
municipality without the necessity of paying any fee or complying
with any conditions locally imposed, provided that subsequent to
attaining majority he has lived in that municipality voluntarily and
uninterruptedly, and without becoming a public charge upon the
charity of his original home, for a period of ten years. The law set
January i, 1891, as the earliest date from which the required ten
years could be computed, so that claims under the new law first be-
came valid in 1901. A wife or child can make good the claim as
well as the new resident himself, so also can his former home mu-
nicipality if it wishes to be rid of responsibility for its absentees.
The right is forfeited if after the required ten years' residence a


period of residence elsewhere intervenes before application is made.
Children born before legal residence is acquired do not acquire it
when the father does.

Legal provisions more or less characteristic of Austria generally
are the following: No person can claim a share in public poor-
relief for whose support any third party is legally responsible. Such
legal responsibility for a wife rests upon her husband ; for children,
both legitimate and illegitimate, upon their parents ; for grandchildren
upon the grandparents ; for parents upon their children, and one who
has received valuable gifts is responsible for aid to the giver if the
latter becomes impoverished. One who has received public aid and
later secures means is bound to restore that which he has received in
charity, so far as this does not impair his power to support himself
and family.

No poor person has any claim upon the public in excess of the
means provided for poor-relief by the existing institutions, agencies
and funds. And as to the form and method of aid the applicant
has no legal voice. The aid given is not to exceed (a) that which
is necessary for subsistence, or (b) for the care of the sick, or (c)
for bringing up children. These necessities are defined as includ-
ing under and outer clothing, lodging, bed and bedding, medical care
in sickness, with medicine and nursing. Mention is also made of
transportation as necessary aid in some cases. Some provinces in-
clude the cost of simple ritualistic burial, while others devolve this
upon the police account of the temporary abode. Among the legally
recognized necessities of children which municipalities are required to
provide, are religious and moral instruction, schooling when the
proper age is reached, setting the child to an occupation adapted to
make it self-supporting, and when necessary the securing of guard-
ians. A municipality has the legal right to set to work any person
found within its borders who is able to work and is without means
of support.

Among the wholly disabled and dependent who must be entirely
supported a distinction is made in some places between the poor of
the burgher class and others who are expected to get along with
cheaper fare and accommodations. The common poor receive, ac-
cording to circumstances and local practice, the value of from 5 to
20 kr. a day, the poor of the burgher class 6 to 10 florins per month.
Permanent aid is usually given in cash ; attempts made in Vienna to


change this practice will be described below. Temporary aid is often
given in commodities, and oftener without than with adequate inves-
tigation. Lodging houses are few and without system.

Oveerseers or visitors {Armenv'dter, Armenpftcger) are not found
in all regions of Austria. Where such officers do not exist applica-
tions are made directly to the municipal executive. A conspicuous
role is played by "certificates of poverty," filled out by the parish
priest and attested by the political authority of the locality or ward.
These are superfluous in small neighborhoods and worthless in large
ones. City priests can not know all who apply to them. And when
no investigations go behind these testimonials all sorts of abuses fol-
low, securing and filing certified applications for aid becomes a regu-
lar method of securing a living.

The provinces of Austria now legislate independently with ref-
erence to the detailed regulation and administration of poor-relief.
This has proved to be a distinct advance over the earlier condition
when, according to the law of 1863, the provinces were hampered
by the control of the home department. We cannot here give details
for all provinces, and among the 12 provinces of Austria proper,
Lower and Upper Austria and Styria deserve special treatment.

In Lower Austria, the province in which Vienna is situated, a
law was passed in 1893 and went into efifect in 1895 which relieved
all municipalities except Vienna of direct responsibility for poor-
relief, and laid the responsibility upon districts into which the towns
were grouped. All available sources of income are made to contrib-
ute to maintain a single district treasury. In each district there is
a council for the poor made up of fifteen or twenty members who
are required to meet at least once each month. Each municipality
in a district has one or more overseers of the poor {ArmcnpHcgcr).
These local overseers are organized into commissions of from three
to fifteen persons. The overseers are, first of all, investigators.
They report the results of their investigations in commission, and the
reports having been approved by the local commission are referred
to the district council and this body takes action to meet the need.
Exception to this procedure is made in urgent cases, the overseers
having power to make immediate requisition for means to relieve dis-
tress. The duty of the overseer does not end with investigation and
reporting. But after aid has been given he continues to have over-
sight of the beneficiaries, to maintain personal relations with them



and to endeavor to awaken them to morality, industry and thrift.
A single overseer can not be required to have charge of more than
six cases, individuals or families.

Visitors to the Poor, their Occupations, as Compared with those in

German Cities.'


Total visitors {Artnenpfleger)

of whom were:



Physicians and druggists


Private officials

City and other officials

Mercantile occupations

Handworkers and industrials.

Landlords and capitalists


















































In 1897 the 68 district councils had in Lower Austria 1,131
members ; there were 994 local commissions and 7,238 overseers. In
the same year the number of cases of aid given (not always to dif-
ferent persons) was as follows : To men, 13,716; to women, 18,206;
to children under 14 years, 4,944; total, 36,866. That about 8,000

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 9 of 73)