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and every effort is now being made so to reorganize them, that they will furnish, not merely aid, but insurance calculated according to scientific actuarial principles. Upon the success achieved in the accomplishment of this undertaking depends the fate of voluntary insurance in France.

The date of the creation of the first mutual aid society cannot be stated. The real history of modern mutual aid societies. however, begins with the year 1852, when the French government, by its act of March 16 of that year, first recognized and attempted to organize them into a regular system operating under government supervision. The important feature of this act was that whereby all mutual aid societies were divided into the two classes of authorized societies (sociétés autorisées) and approved societies (sociétés approuvés). This distinction is maintained to the present day. Societies of the first class are left subject to articles 291 and 292 of the penal code, which simply provides that associations of twenty or more persons organized for certain purposes must receive the authorization of the government. Societies of the second class are now subject to the provisions of the organic law of March 16, 1852, the decree of April 26, 1856, concerning old-age pensions, the law of July 11, 1868, and the decree of November 28, 1890, relative to collective life insurance by the National Life Insurance Bank. This distinction means merely that any society can be organized under the general provisions of the penal code, but that, in order to profit by certain subsidies and other advantages offered by the government they must be approved by the government, and therefore subjected to certain conditions regarding their constitutions and management. The government attempts to make the advantages sufficient to induce all societies to become approved and thus brought under the supervisory powers of the state. This result, it would seem, is being gradually accomplished. As approved societies constitute the most important and well developed organization and is the form to which all the societies are tending, it is with them that we are chiefly concerned.

According to the laws and decrees cited above, the purposes of approved mutual aid societies are declared to be the care of their members and the payment to them of cash benefits when

sick, the payment of funeral expenses on their death, the payment of pensions to members in their old age or when invalided, and the insurance of their lives for the benefit of their widows and children. Practically all of the societies provide for the insurance of their members against sickness. This constitutes their great work. It is optional with each society to determine whether it will provide old-age or life insurance. Sick insurance is entirely taken care of by the societies themselves. For old-age or life insurance, however, use must be made of the national insurance institutions. The government caisse des dépôts et consignations is made the banker for all the mutual aid societies and the latter are required to deposit all of their funds in excess of 3,000 francs in this institution. These deposits are invested in government securities, but the government pays to the societies 472 per cent. interest regardless of what the securities themselves realize. In practice this amounts to a still further government assistance of no small amount. That portion of these deposits which the societies wish to devote to old-age pensions is kept in a separate fund, which can be drawn upon by the societies for no other purpose.

From the foregoing it is seen that though nominally, and for many purposes actually, each society is an independent organization, the government has by a series of laws bound them together into a national insurance system. Not only are all societies required to make annual reports to the government, but they are required to deposit all but a small proportion of their funds in the national caisse des dépôts et consignations by which they are invested, and the national insurance institutions are placed at their disposal. This, however, is far from meaning a system of state insurance. Not only is there not the slightest compulsion upon the people to become members of mutual aid societies, but these latter, when constituted, are left perfectly free, as regards the determination of the amount of dues to be paid and the character and extent of the relief to be granted. In other words, there is presented a pure type of voluntary but state-aided insurance. A number of features of this system merits special attention. Before taking them up, however, it will be well to show what has been, and is, the extent of its operations.


Every mutual aid society is required by law to make an annual report to the Minister of the Interior. On the basis of these reports the government issues an annual report concerning the operations of all mutual aid societies during the year. From these reports it is possible to trace the history of these societies from their first recognition in 1852. In the sketch that follows it is, however, not necessary to go back of the year 1871. During the years preceding this date the same steady growth took place that is shown for the years 1871 to 1892.

In order to show the development of the system from year to year there is first given a table showing the number of societies, the number of members, honorary and participating, the total receipts during the year, and the total amount of the funds of the societies on deposit with the caisse des dépôts et consignations. The distinction between honorary and participating members lies in the fact that the former contribute as regular members, but are not entitled to any of the benefits. Their large number is due to the fact that employers or the more well-to-do portion of a community take this mode of encouraging the organization of such societies among their employés or fellow citizens. Only the participating members, therefore, represent the number of persons insured.


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These figures show the extent to which the working people have connected themselves with mutual aid societies, and the growth of these societies from year to year. On the 31st day of December, 1892, there were 9,662 societies in operation with a total of 1,503,397 members, of whom 1,283,021 were participating members. The table, it will be observed, shows not only a steady increase each year, but this tendency is much greater in the latter than in the earlier years. The receipts of the societies increased nearly $200,000 each year, and in 1892 amounted to $6,052,520.65. The amount of capital deposited in the caisse des depots et consignations shows an even more gratifying increase, being at the end of the year 1892, $31,109,397.84 for approved societies, an increase during the year of $3,765,363.08, and for authorized societies $6,706,658.83, an increase during the year of $290,204.97.

It is the desire of those interested in the development of mutual aid societies that as far as possible all societies should become approved, and thus brought into one system and subjected to the general regulations regarding the use of the national insurance institutions. The comparatively slow increase in the number of authorized societies, their increase during the last year being but 41, while their membership actually declined; and the increase of approved societies, which was in number 207 and in membership 33,790, would indicate that this is taking place. The proposed changes in laws regulating their operations will still further tend to hasten this result.

The receipts of mutual aid societies are derived from the dues of members, entrance fees, fines, interest on funds invested, sub

sidies, gifts, etc., and other miscellaneous receipts. Expenditures consist of payments made for cash benefits to sick members, the salaries of physicians, medical supplies, payments for the aid of those suffering from incurable diseases, the aid of widows and orphans, the constitution of old-age pensions, funeral expenses, expenses of administration and other. The following table, in which are given the receipts and expenditures of all approved societies during the year 1892, with an additional column showing the relative importance of each item, indicates fully the nature of their financial operations.


FRANCE, 1892.

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Cash benefits to sick.
Salaries of physicians
Medical supplies
Aid to old members and those suffering from incurable

Aid to widows and orphans
Old-age pensions.
Funeral expenses..

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This table shows the nature of the operations of mutual aid societies better than could be done by any amount of description. As regards receipts the most important feature is the large extent to which the contributions of participating members are supplemented by other sources of income. The dues of participating members and entrance fees account for but 64.23 per cent. of all receipts; 10.80 per cent, is derived from interest, and 8.75 per cent. from fines and other sources,while

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