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Life insurance and income growth: the case of Sweden 1830-1950
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3293-2318
2010 (English)In: Scandinavian Economic History Review, ISSN 0358-5522, E-ISSN 1750-2837, Vol. 58, no 3, 203-219 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper we provide an analysis of the life insurance market in Sweden from the early 19th century to the mid 20th century. We consider determinants put forward in the financial history literature to explain the growth of life insurance. The paper shows that income elasticity of demand gives a fairly good approximation of the development in the twentieth century, while the development of risk and insurance innovation among other things need to be taken into account to explain the growth of life insurance in nineteenth century. The price of life insurance, measured as the overhead-to-premium-income-ratio, remained fairly constant during the second half of the 19th century, while the risk, as indicated in terms of crude mortality rates and its volatility did decline.  This probably improved the return on life-insurance savings and further helped the entry of new firms. The average premium size was reduced to enable the diffusion of life insurance to workers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge , 2010. Vol. 58, no 3, 203-219 p.
Keyword [en]
Insurance history; insurance; the financial revolution; Swedish economic history; household budget survey; historical national accounts
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-33039DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2010.503577OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-33039DiVA: diva2:309681
Projects
The historical development of the Swedish insurance industry
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P2006-0679:1-E
Available from: 2010-04-08 Created: 2010-04-08 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Life after death: The diffusion of Swedish life insurance - Dynamics of financial and social modernization 1830-1950
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life after death: The diffusion of Swedish life insurance - Dynamics of financial and social modernization 1830-1950
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to understand the diffusion process of Swedish life insurance during the period c. 1830-1950, with the specific aim to understand financial modernization and social mobilization as reflected in the diffusion of life insurance to less well-to-do classes and women. In contrast to British and American experiences, the results of this thesis show that the rural classes played an important role in the diffusion of Swedish life insurance.

The thesis shows that demand-side factors such as income and urbanisation cannot fully explain this diffusion of life insurance, and why additionally, non-quantitative factors need to be addressed. It is shown how cultural preferences assist in understanding the development of industrial life insurance in different countries. It is also stressed that women, in their capacity as policyholders, beneficiaries of life policies, as dependents, and their limited property rights, constituted the conditions under which the life insurance industry had to adjust and operate.

In sum, female policyholders, cultural representations of women and legal constraints on women, constituted an important subset of the 'rules of the game' for the life insurance industry. Important results of the thesis are that female policyholders constituted a large part of the policyholders in the largest industrial life insurance company already in the early twentieth century. It is furthermore shown that life insurance representatives were members in organizations of the women's movement and that they acted for married women's property rights in parliament. It is also argued that different notions of 'a good death', as reflected in funeral practices, contributed to different developments of private and public insurance in Sweden and the United States. By widening the concept of 'business' and recognizing the cultural and social contexts under which the industry operated, this thesis highlights the interaction between business and social change. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, Institutionen för ekonomisk historia, 2011. 48+4 papers p.
Series
Umeå studies in economic history, ISSN 0347-254X ; 43
Keyword
economic history, life insurance, married women's property rights, industrial life insurance, funeral cost, sales promotion, policyholder, Sweden, culture, financial system, women
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-47966 (URN)978-91-7459-292-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-28, Samhällsvetarhuset, S213h, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
"Den enskildes risk och det gemensamma åtagandet" Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius Stiftelse Tore Browaldhs stiftelse
Available from: 2011-10-07 Created: 2011-10-05 Last updated: 2015-03-05Bibliographically approved

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