Open main menu

Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/48

This page has been validated.

accident insurance, but this aim was afterwards extended to include a sickness insurance as well; and, indeed, it was only upon this point that the proposals of the Commission had any direct bearing. After two years of work the Commission handed in its report. With regard to sick funds, it proposed not to disturb the existing system of Friendly Societies, but rather to encourage this form of self-help in every possible way. When the guild system was abolished the majority of the compulsory journeymen's funds, which were often combined with extra voluntary contributions, had been taken over by voluntary journeymen's clubs. Besides these, however, Friendly Societies of another sort were then in existence throughout the country. In 1866 the total membership was estimated at 20,000, but after that it increased rapidly; in 1874 it amounted to 87,000, and in 1885 the total membership of about one thousand Friendly Societies was estimated at about 120,000. Generally speaking, therefore, the individual societies were small. Inasmuch as the system of Friendly Societies had led to such good results, it seemed quite proper to continue working along the same lines.

The Friendly Societies had not operated entirely without outside support. In the capital most of them were recognized by the municipality—which meant that their members, when their need was proved, received treatment at reduced rates in the Kommunehospital for themselves, as well as free cure and attendance for their wives and children. Moreover, physicians did a great deal of work for them at low rates. But the societies, although their payments to the members were ordinarily small, were often hard pressed for funds, so that it was sometimes necessary to raise money to cover deficiencies by extraordinary means, i. e. by festivals or otherwise. But while the activity of the Friendly Societies could not be extensive from an economic standpoint, great advantages of another kind were derived from this form of self-help. The administration and inner life of the societies