Open main menu

Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/46

This page has been validated.
30
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

in horse power, was from 113,000 to 230,000 an increase of more than a 100 per cent, in not more than eight years.

Beginnings of Social Insurance

By the time the report of the commission was published a strong turn of the tide had taken place in the outside world and had contributed to bring about a corresponding change of attitude in Denmark. In Germany the short-lived free trade movement had given way to a protective policy. Political economists had freed themselves from the old idea of the social-economic harmony resulting from free competition and free initiative. 'Professorial socialism' (Catheder-socialisms), with its demand for the intervention of the state in behalf of the lower classes, was popular in the universities. The German government had entered into the struggle against the socialist movement with firm resolve, but with little success. In 1878 it passed a Socialist Act which led only to a closer consolidation of socialistic ranks. As a counterbalance to anything which might arouse dissatisfaction among the lower classes, on November 17, 1881, Bismarck issued the famous Imperial Message concerning workmen's insurance, which set forth basic principles for legislative measures, not only in Germany, but also in several other countries. In solemn form the message declared that the cure for social ills was not exclusively to be found in the suppression of social-democratic excesses, but in positive efforts to promote the well-being of the workmen; and it proposed, in the first place, a workmen's compensation law and a further provision for sick funds and old-age and invalid pensions. Results followed quickly. In 1883 a law on sick funds was passed introducing compulsory insurance, two-thirds of it to be paid by the workmen and one-third by the employer. In the following year came a workmen's compensation act which brought to light the great change of opinion that had taken place since 1871 as to the responsibility of employers in case