Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 63: Social security*

Frans Pennings


The first statutory social security laws were adopted in the 1880s in Germany. They were not the first forms of social security – arrangements had already been made in early civilisations to protect persons with an insufficient income – but they are generally taken as the start of a legal approach towards social security. The reason for this is obvious: the new Acts introduced an enforceable right to benefit when the insured contingency materialises, whereas the earlier forms of social protection were not enforceable by law. The early German laws were introduced under Bismarck, the then Chancellor, who saw these as an instrument to reduce the social unrest which was threatening the German State at the time. For this reason these social security schemes were targeted at workers. The laws were each dedicated to one specific contingency, for instance industrial accidents and sickness. Later German laws followed the same approach: they too covered one contingency only; at the time these were sickness, old age, disability, death of the breadwinner and unemployment.

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