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Turin early in 1895, and a congress of workmen of Piedmont, held in Turin early in 1896, unanimously voted in favor of establishing a maternity insurance fund. Soon after that the league appointed an organization committee and in the beginning of 1898 this fund was established. According to its constitution (a) the aim of this fund is to enable its active members to abstain from work for some time before and after childbirth. The total period during which benefits are normally given is 30 days, while in case of illness accompanying childbirth, special provisions are made, up to a maximum of 45 days. The normal period is divided into two terms, 15 days before and 15 days after childbirth. In case of miscarriage or premature labor, only the second term is paid for.
The daily benefit for the period is 1.50 lire (29 cents), and it is given only upon proof of actual abstention from work. Other conditions exacted are that the woman be not pregnant at the time of admission to membership, that normal childbirth does not take place until nine months after admission to membership, and that the members' dues be regularly paid.
The resources from which these benefits are paid are membership fees and charitable donations or other miscellaneous revenues. Members are divided into three classes-active, contributing, and honorary; but from a financial point of view only the first two classes are important. Contributing members are persons who join the association from humanitarian considerations, and they are divided into three groups-founders, who contribute not less than 1,000 lire ($193) as a lump sum; life members, who contribute not less than 50 lire ($9.65) at once, either in money or in commodities; and contributing members, who agree to contribute 2 lire (39 cents) per annum for at least 5 years.
Active members pay 50 centesimi (10 cents) per month.
An interesting subsidiary function of the association is the annual awarding of premiums to mothers who take the best care of their infants, as judged by physicians and lady visitors.
Naturally, only women of the childbearing age could be expected to join this association. A birth rate of 50 per cent was therefore expected, but by experience it was reduced to 40 per cent. With this rate in view, the financial status of the association is seen from the following computation:
With a daily benefit of 1.50 lire (29 cents) during 30 days, the normal amount of benefits per each case amounts to 45 lire ($8.69), or 1,800 lire ($347.40) for each 100 active members, without taking into consideration the cost of administration. The annual member
a Henri Scodnik, L'Institution de Caisses pour la Maternité en Italie (Congrés International des Accidents du Travail et des Assurances Sociales. Sixième Session tenue à Dusseldorf du 17 au 24 juin, 1902), pp. 667-680.
ship dues of these 100 members amount to 600 lire ($115.80), or only one-third of the necessary cost, leaving 1,200 lire ($231.60), or two-thirds, to be obtained from contributing members or from other charitable sources. Yet 6 lire ($1.16) per annum is considered quite high for dues, considering the wages for labor in Italy, the old-age insurance institutions not daring to demand more than that. Thus a voluntary system of maternity insurance in Italy seems to meet the unsurmountable difficulty of excessive cost.
The provisions of this society were somewhat modified (a) in 1904, when the society was recognized under the law of 1886. An effort was made to adjust the membership dues to the risk of maternity, though in a rather crude way. The dues are 35 centesimi (7 cents) per
month for women under 21 years of age, 55 centesimi (11 cents) per month for women 21 to 30 years old, and 45 centesimi (9 cents) per month for women over 30 years of age. The number of members in 1907 was 494, and the number of cases assisted only 121, or less than 25 per cent. Nevertheless, the membership dues were not sufficient to support the society.
Five more maternity benefit societies are known to have been organized-one in each of the cities of Milan, Rome, Florence, and Brescia in 1905, and one in Bergamo in 1906.
In the Milan society the membership dues vary from 1.20 lire (23 cents) to 9 lire ($1.74) per annum for members under 20 years of age, and for all over 20 years of age they are 9.60 lire ($1.85) per annum, while the total maternity benefit must not exceed 30 lire ($5.79). The society in Rome, while offering a benefit equal to that of the society at Turin, exacts as dues only 25 centesimi (5 cents) per month. The society of Florence gives a daily benefit of 1.50 lire (29 cents) for twenty days before accouchment and for an equal period after accouchment, making a total benefit of 60 lire ($11.58), and also exacts higher dues—45 centesimi (9 cents) per month for members under 21 years of age, 65 centesimi (13 cents) for members from 21 to 30 years, and 55 centesimi (11 cents) for those over 30 years of age.
The society at Bergamo charges membership dues of 40 centesimi (8 cents), 60 centesimi (12 cents), and 50 centesimi (10 cents) per month, respectively, for the same three age groups as shown for the Florence society, in addition to an initiation fee of 1 lira (19 cents), and grants a benefit of 40 lire ($7.72).
The society at Brescia charges 40 centesimi (8 cents), 55 centesimi (11 cents), and 45 centesimi (9 cents), respectively, for the same three age groups, and grants a daily benefit of 1.50 lire (29 cents) for thirty days, or a total of 45 lire ($8.69).
a IIenri Scodnik, L'Assurance Maternelle et les Caisses pour la Maternité (Congrés International des Assurances Sociales, ge session, Rome, octobre, 1908).
The variations show that there is no real actuarial basis for all these societies, which are partly self-supporting.
A great stimulus to the public interest in the problem of m:ternity insurance was given by the adoption on June 19, 1902, of the law regulating industrial employment of women and children. (4) Article 6 of this law specifically prohibits employment of women within one month after childbirth. In exceptional cases this period may be reduced to three weeks, provided the woman furnishes a certificate signed by the bureau of hygiene of the locality in which she resides, certifying that the state of her health is such that she may, without any harm to herself, perform the work for which she desires to be employed. Thus the law established a period of legal disability, accompanied by an enforced loss of earnings, and it was natural that in both chambers of the Parliament the adoption of this law was accompanied by resolutions that the Government be called upon to prepare a plan for the establishment of a national maternity insurance institution, in which membership should be obligatory for all those female workers to whom this law applies, namely, employees of mines, factories, and workshops.
INVESTIGATION OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR.
To prepare the statistical and actuarial foundations for a bill to establish a system of obligatory maternity insurance, the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce charged the Italian Bureau of Labor to undertake an investigation extending only to those women who are covered by the law of June 19, 1902. The investigation was undertaken in 1903, and the report published in 1904, being the first statistical investigation of that bureau. It covered the year December 1, 1902, to November 30, 1903, and included 172,365 female employees in 2,654 establishments.
According to the Italian census of 1901, the number of female employees and their proportion to the total number of employees is shown in the following table: NUMBER AND PER CENT OF FEMALE EMPLOYEES IN EACH INDUSTRY GROUP, 1901. (Source: Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, Ufficio del Lavoro. Basi Tecniche di una Cassa
a Belgium. Office du Travail, Annuaire de la Legislation du Travail, 6e année, 1902.
The total number of females employed in the industries, according to the census of 1901, was 730,816. On the other hand, the statistical office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce has published its own enumeration of the industrial establishments subject to the law of June 19, 1902, as follows:
NUMBER AND PER CENT OF FEMALE EMPLOYEES IN EACH INDUSTRY GROUP, 1902.
(Source: Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, Ufficio del Lavoro. Basi Tecniche di una Cassa
di Maternità, 1904.)
Thus out of an aggregate of 1,274,706 employees, 450,468, or 35.3 per cent, were females; but of these only 368,120, or 81.7 per cent, were over 15 years of age, constituting only 28.9 per cent of the aggregate.
The investigation of the Bureau of Labor embraced only 2,654 establishments, out of 143,993 or less than 2 per cent, but these establishments employed 172,365 females between the ages of 15 and 54, or 46.8 per cent of all female employees over 15 yeas of age, which makes the results of the investigation sufficiently accurate.
In the following table are shown the statistical results of this investigation, somewhat simplified by the exclusion of actuarial details. The table shows, by the four industrial groups, the birth rate per 1,000 full-year employees, the average wage of the female employees between 15 and 54 years of age, and the average wage of women giving birth to children, which is somewhat higher, and finally a computation of the relation between the dues necessary to cover the cost of maternity insurance and the wages of the female employees. The benefits, which are paid for 30 days, are made equal to one-half the daily wage, or three-fourths the daily wage. The birth rate was found to be only 45 per thousand full-year workers, while it is 120 per thousand for the corresponding ages in Italy at large. This is easily explained by the great proportion of unmarried women among the factory employees. The final conclusion of the computation seems to show that 0.3 of one per cent of the wages would be necessary to provide maternity benefits amounting to onehalf the wages for 30 days, and 0.45 of one per cent of the wages for maternity benefits amounting to three-fourths of the wages for 30 days.
BIRTH RATE, AVERAGE WAGES, AND PROPORTION OF WAGES NECESSARY TO
INSURE MATERNITY BENEFIT, BY INDUSTRY GROUPS, 1902. (Source: Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, Ufficio del Lavoro. Basi Tecniche di una Cassa
di Maternità, 1904.)
The results of this investigation and the discussion of the problem of maternity insurance both by the council of provident institutions (*) and by the superior council of labor () resulted in a bill which was introduced in the Chamber of Deputies on May 27, 1905, (©) by the minister of agriculture, industry and commerce. The bill aimed to establish a system of obligatory maternity insurance, limited to women between the ages of 15 and 50, employed in mines, factories, and workshops.
For this purpose a national institution or fund was proposed with headquarters in Rome, to be administered by the National Old-Age and Invalidity Insurance Institution, as an autonomous section of the same.
In this institution the insurance was to be compulsory for all women of the class and age designated. The benefit necessary was placed approximately at three-fourths of the daily wage for 30 days, rather than a flat per diem rate, which would have no relation to the local variations in the cost of living, as the wages do to a great
a Atti del Consiglio de Previdenza (Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, Ispettorato Generale del Credito e della Previdenza), Annali del Credito e della Previdenza, Anno 1903, No. 51.
Atti del Consiglio Superiore del Lavoro, III Sessione, 1904. c Bollettino dell'Ufficio del Lavoro, Vol. III, 1905.