Mutual benefit societies in Hungary, 1830‐1941

Keith Hitchins

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In Hungary for most of the nineteenth century mutual benefit societies played a key role in providing various social groups with aid in case of illness, accident, disability or death. The majority were linked to the burgeoning working‐class movement and were voluntary associations whose members had no other recourse in times of adversity. Hungary was undergoing transformation in the nineteenth century. Changes in goods production and the craft guilds accelerated the establishment of workers’benefit societies, and so did the lack of a coherent system of social insurance in the new industrial order. They grew in tandem with the expansion of Hungary's economy and the return of constitutional government in 1867, and flourished from the 1870s to the decade preceding the First World War. Austria and Germany provided theoretical justifications and practical models. By the 1890s voluntary mutual benefit societies faced increasing competition from the State. As the economy and social structures evolved, successive governments sponsored their own insurance programmes. By the turn of the century, private companies were also offering life and accident insurance and the appeal of mutual benefit societies to both workers and the middle class diminished. Between the two world wars, they continued to serve a substantial segment of the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Social Security Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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