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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/107

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RECENT SOCIAL LEGISLATION

during the winter and 1.5 kroner per day during the five summer months are now granted to each householder, and assistance toward the rent is a little more liberal. But the source of the difficulty does not seem to have been reached. Still the thought seems to find expression in the new act, that a duty to work ought to be attached to the right of existence; but on this point there will doubtless be much argument before its rationality is made clear.

The founding of unemployment societies on the basis created by earlier legislation was a long step in the direction of help to self-help; but in using the unemployment societies as the institutions through which to make government grants legislation unwisely followed the line of least resistance. Through the use of the existing institutions as examining boards and as treasuries their significance as insurance societies became vague, and their position will be difficult when normal conditions are restored.

Future historians will certainly see in the Danish use of the unemployment funds during the present period of high prices a reflection of the English Allowance System of the eighteenth century, which Malthus attacked so vigorously. Just as that system aimed to give the unemployed workman the minimum necessary for his existence, the present Danish system aims to give him an income up to a certain limit. In this connexion it is interesting to note that, according to the act, a workman who is willing to accept unaccustomed work outside his own trade may receive from the fund a temporary addition to obtain the wage which is customary for the workman of that time when he, on account of failing practice, can not earn this wage by his work.

Economic Changes caused by the War

The change of economic conditions during the World War will be the chief excuse for this indulgent policy. Evidences of a surprising increase in the incomes of the majority of the population are numerous, statistics of taxation showing them to have trebled between the years 1906 and 1918.