A Short History of Tontines
Columbia Law School
February 9, 2009
Fordham Corporate and Financial Law Review, Vol. 15, pp. 491-521, 2010
The tontine, with its underlying premise that the living participants benefit from the death of their fellows, does not deserve its shadowy reputation. It had some success in its original purpose, as a means of government fund raising. It was most successful as a means of private development and investment from around 1780 through the 1850's. However, it was used as a gimmick in the selling of life insurance and as a cover for outright fraud in the latter part of the 19th Century. It was also subject to attack from writers who found the notion of gambling on other people's deaths unseemly. The tontine developed an aura of shadiness, and was eventually abandoned. If re-developed as a form of insurance for the long-lived, it may be worth rehabilitation as an investment tool.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Date posted: February 10, 2009 ; Last revised: May 6, 2010
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