Dalle Società Di Mutuo Soccorso Alla Mutualità: Risposte Alla Crisi Del Welfare (From Mutual Aid Societies to Mutuality: Responses to the Welfare Crisis)
24 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 11, 2012
Mutual Aid Societies arose between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Europe, and are a historical form of solidarity with the working classes - anti-elite, free from state control, independently run - established to deal with illness, death and unemployment.
On the basis of a survey of the Italian situation, the paper addresses the role that mutuality can play today in response to the welfare crisis.
Around 2,000 mutual aid societies are currently active in Italy, and an investigation of 34 of the approximately 100 societies operating in Piemonte found that, in addition to the activities envisaged by law - as providing supplementary health insurance and helping cover funeral expenses - the societies combine recreational activities (restaurants, cafés and clubs) with cultural activities and assistance for both members and non-members in areas ranging from transportation services for the elderly and ill, to in-home care and scholarships. The only society that can boast a uninterrupted tradition of mutual aid from its origins and which operates nationwide is "Cesare Pozzo", founded in 1877 by railroad workers in Milano, which provides supplementary health insurance to 86,000 members and has branches throughout Italy staffed by employees and volunteers. In general, however, Italy’s mutual aid societies have a limited role in the field of supplementary health insurance, covering only 14% of out of pocket expenses: much less than their counterparts in other European countries. A further development of mutuality which does not betray its original principles of solidarity can be imagined only if social innovations are produced which can combine economic sustainability with democracy, avoid the risks of adverse selection and moral hazard, and if solidarity is accompanied, as it has been historically, by the ability to produce a new culture of welfare and to provide advocacy for the young generations who must deal at first hand with the risks of an economy that is becoming increasingly less regulated.
Note: Downloadable document is in Italian.
Keywords: Mutual aid society, supplementary health insurance, mutuality, welfare
JEL Classification: I13, L31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation