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in the USSR, the state system guaranteeing the material security of workers in old age, in the event of illness and loss of ability to work, and in other cases specified by law (treatment at a sanatorium or health resort, provision of recreation facilities and other health-related measures). Social insurance is financed through insurance contributions made by enterprises, institutions, and organizations and through subsidies from the state budget.
The basic principles of social insurance in Russia were developed by V. I. Lenin in an insurance program adopted at the Sixth All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP, held in Prague in 1912. Currently, social insurance applies to industrial and nonindustrial workers and employees and kolkhoz workers and is financed without deductions from wages. Many types of insurance are provided, and the extent of insurance coverage systematically increases. In addition to providing financial security, social insurance is aimed at improving the health of the workers and increasing the effectiveness of social production. All citizens participate in the social-insurance system, which is managed by trade unions—the largest public organizations of the working people.
The main forms of social insurance are pensions and benefits. Passes (free or at reduced rates) are available for trips to sanatoriums, hotels, houses of rest, Pioneer camps, prophylactic centers, tourist centers, sports camps, and dietotherapeutic facilities. Pensions and the main types of benefits are based on a percentage of earnings and often compensate fully for prior wages.
In 1970, in accordance with the decisions of the Third All-Union Congress of Kolkhoz Workers, a system of social insurance for kolkhoz members was adopted. The system has certain special features associated with the specific nature of kolkhoz production. Social insurance for kolkhoz workers is also administered by trade unions, in which case it is paid out of a special fund generated by contributions made by kolkhozes.
In the USSR, important measures were taken to further improve social insurance during the ninth five-year plan (1971-75). Pregnancy benefits were established at 100 percent of earnings for all working women, regardless of length of service or membership in trade unions. The payment of benefits for the care of a sick child were increased, as were pension payments to industrial and nonindustrial workers and employees and kolkhoz workers. Benefits were established for the children of low-income families and for industrial and nonindustrial workers and employees having three or more dependent children under the age of 16 (18 if students). On Dec. 1, 1975, benefits for temporary disability were established at 100 percent of earnings regardless of length of service and temporary-disability benefits were improved for workers suffering from tuberculosis.
The budget for state social insurance has steadily increased. There were 958 million rubles in the budget in 1945, 10.59 billion rubles in 1965, and approximately 26 billion rubles in 1976.
Social-insurance matters are an important aspect of the work of trade unions. The local factory committees (fabzavmestkom, or FZMK) of trade unions directly administer social insurance at places of employment. These committees grant benefits, issue passes for trips to sanatoriums and houses of rest, send children to Pioneer camps, and cooperate with medical offices and business management in planning and carrying out measures to reduce illness among workers. They also check that medical certificates are properly issued and payments for social insurance are made by employers. The committees work jointly with employers in preparing the proper documents when pensions are granted to industrial and nonindustrial workers and employees and their families. Workers, employees, and kolkhoz workers also participate in the administration of social insurance by working on social-insurance and pension commissions and by serving as insurance delegates.
In capitalist countries, social insurance is the principal type of social security available to workers in the event of loss of earnings in connection with old age, permanent or temporary disability, unemployment, or death of a breadwinner. The most important principle of bourgeois social insurance is the obligatory withholding of insurance contributions from the wages of insured workers. Between 1960 and 1974 the insurance contributions paid by industrial and nonindustrial workers and employees (as a percentage of wages) rose in Austria from 12.0 to 13.4 percent, in Great Britain from 4.25 to 8.0 percent, in Italy from 5.4 to 6.5 percent, in the USA from 3.125 to 6.7 percent, in the Federal Republic of Germany from 12.5 to 14.65 percent, in France from 6.0 to 6.58 percent, and in Japan from 5.7 to 7.78 percent. In the Netherlands insurance contributions increased from 17.8 to 21.45 percent between 1965 and 1974. Direct withholdings from wages make up as much as 50 percent of total insurance funds. The remainder is made up by employers and the state. However, since the insurance contributions made by employers come out of the wage fund, the entire social-insurance system is financed in effect by the workers themselves.
In a large number of capitalist countries, many forms of social insurance are entirely lacking. For example, only six of the 50 states in the USA have social insurance for illness, only one state provides for pregnancy, and none of the states provides benefits for families with children.
Since World War II, the workers in many capitalist countries have succeeded in winning certain concessions in social insurance, although in the majority of instances agricultural workers, workers in small businesses, home workers, and other worker categories are not eligible for coverage. The management of social insurance is not entrusted to the insured workers themselves in any capitalist country but is administered either by state agencies or by special organizations under the jurisdiction of state agencies. Representatives of the insured workers are sometimes allowed on the staff of the agencies or organizations together with representatives of the government and the employers.
In the 1970’s a campaign has been waged in capitalist countries for the introduction of workers’ self-insurance, as a result of which substantial reductions have been made in government allocations to insurance funds in the USA, Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, and many other countries.
REFERENCESSotsial’noe obespechenie i strakhovanie v SSSR: Sb. ofitsial’nykh dokumentov s kommentariiami. Moscow, 1972.
Andreev, V. S. Pravo sotsial’nogo obespecheniia v SSSR. Moscow, 1974.
G. S. SIMONENKO and V. I. USENIN