Does social security crowd out private savings? The case of Bismarck's system of social insurance

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle ; Streb, Jochen

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-492042
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2018
The title of a journal, publication series: European Review of Economic History
Volume: 22
Issue number: 3
Page range: 298-321
Place of publication: Oxford
Publishing house: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1361-4916 , 1474-0044
Related URLs:
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Law and Economics > Wirtschaftsgeschichte (Streb 2011-)
Subject: 900 History
Abstract: Imperial chancellor Bismarck’s system of social insurance (with its three pillars health, accident and pension insurance) was an important role model for social security systems across Europe and in the USA. How the introduction of the German system changed economic expectations and decisions of the German workforce has not been researched, though. This article closes this gap by analyzing the development of Prussian savings banks’ deposits in the late 19th century with the help of a difference-in-difference-like approach. We show that, in the Prussian case, social security crowded out private savings considerably. As counterfactual voluntary savings would have been far from sufficient, however, Bismarck’s social insurance system might still have been needed to fight the misery workers and their families potentially faced in old age or times of sickness.
Additional information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in European Review of Economic History following peer review. The version of record is available online at:

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