A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation / Edition 1

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Workers’ compensation was arguably the first widespread social insurance program in the United States—before social security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance—and the most successful form of labor legislation to emerge from the early progressive movement. 

In A Prelude to the Welfare State, Price V. Fishback and Shawn Everett Kantor challenge widespread historical perceptions by arguing that workers’ compensation, rather than being an early progressive victory, succeeded because all relevant parties—labor and management, insurance companies, lawyers, and legislators—benefited from the ruling. Rigorous and convincing, A Prelude to the Welfare State is a major reappraisal of the causes and consequences of a movement that ultimately transformed the nature of social insurance and the American workplace.

“Substantial, well-written, and compelling. . . . The end result is an in-depth analysis of how workers’ compensation was created and initially implemented in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century”—Christopher R. Larrison, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Price V. Fishback is the Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of

Government and the American Economy: A New History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Study the Origins of Workers’ Compensation?
1. Framing the Issues
2. Compensation for Accidents before Workers’ Compensation
3. The Economic Impact of the Switch to Workers’ Compensation
4. The Timing of Workers’ Compensation’s Enactment in the United States
5. The Political Process of Adopting Workers’ Compensation
6. The Fractious Disputes over State Insurance
7. The Battles over Benefit Levels, 1910-1930
8. Epilogue: Lessons from the Origins of Workers’ Compensation
Appendix A: Accident Reporting under the Negligence System
Appendix B: Workers’ Compensation Benefits and the Construction of the Expected Benefits Variable
Appendix C: Measuring the Change in Accident Benefits from Negligence Liability to Workers’ Compensation
Appendix D: Econometric Analysis Used to Estimate Wage Offsets
Appendix E: A Model of Insurance Consumption and Saving Behavior
Appendix F: An Econometric Analysis of the Effect of Increased Expected Benefits on Saving and Insurance Behavior
Appendix G: Employers’ Liability Laws
Appendix H: Discrete-Time Hazard Analysis of the Timing of Adoption across the United States
Appendix I: Data Sources and Descriptions of Quantitative Variables
Appendix J: State versus Private Insurance: An Ordered-Probit Analysis of the State’s Choice
Appendix K: A Quantitative Analysis of Workers’ Compensation Benefit Levels

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