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The French social protection system has a long history, one that begins well before the advent of social security. Welfare schemes were based on a logic of charity. They developed in different ways through the nineteenth century, sometimes inspired by Catholic and Protestant churches and sometimes driven by employers. The industrial revolution contributed to the rapid expansion of mutualist societies; by 1914, mutualists formed the largest such movement in the country. The state had already started to invest in social protection over the preceding twenty years, and did so even more after the Great War. This created a new relationship between the different protagonists involved in private social protection.


  • social protection system
  • mutualist movement
  • friendly societies
  • charity
Michel Dreyfus
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