Private and Social Insurance


At the heart of this chapter is the expansion of public and social insurance in the decades after the end of the second world war. Private insurance, which has lost in its importance in comparison with national institutions, but which continues to be of economic relevance and quite accessible to a historical-statistical analysis, is treated in rather rudimentary fashion: apart from summary overviews by major subdivisions of the branch, the table section of this chapter only contains an overview of the life insurance conditions between 1891 and 1984. A review of other branches of private insurance, in the form of long-term series, remains a task of historical research of future years.
Even though the presented figures surely require interpretation, this is not the place for a commentary on public and social insurance data, most of which originates from the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland. We limit ourselves to a few comments on the estimate of the value added in the insurance industry, created by Beat John for the National Fund project “Money supply and economic growth in Switzerland 1851–1913” (“Geldmenge und Wirtschaftswachstum 1851–1913”). The political, legal, and social background of the depicted developments is discussed in related literature (see list of sources).

Value Added Series 1850–1913

John’s estimate is based on a virtually complete evaluation of the operational reports of private insurance companies and the canton fire insurance. Beginning with 1886, John could also avail himself of the annual reports of the Federal Insurance Office. The data required for the determination of value added – gross premium revenues, reinsurance premiums, and returns on capital – was directly available to him from the operational reports of insurance companies. It had to be considered, however, that Swiss companies’ foreign activity as well as foreign companies’ Swiss activity do not represent part of the value added. In order to capture those segments of the insurance business, John looked at the agent commissions. For Swiss companies, he first determined the percentage of foreign business of the total insurance sum based on data found in operational reports of insurance companies and qualitative sources, applied this percentage to the commissions, and finally, subtracted the foreign component from the gross value added. For foreign companies, he proceeded using the same general method, but had to resort to linear interpolations due to an unfavorable data situation in life and fire insurance prior to 1886.

SOURCE: «Private and Social Insurance» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 839-840

Show more (+)
The current chapter contains 16 table(s) between 1850 and 1992