Social security

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Social security is a generic term, most commonly used in the USA and UK, referring to different types of state programmes for protection of the elderly (old age pensions), healthcare provision, and income maintenance among others. The term covers all types of state and para-state programmes, including social insurance (predominant in continental Europe), social assistance (the anglophone countries' preferred means-tested benefits for the poor) and tax-based universal benefits (more commonly found in Scandinavian countries). A country's overall state policy on these issues is frequently referred to as the "welfare state", with negative connotations and stigma attached to this throughout the anglophone world.

Broader Meaning

In its original usage, the term had a broader and more general meaning that transcended reference to specific programmes. Arthur J. Altmeyer, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal "Brain Trust", wrote "The term 'social security' was not in common use either in (the U.S.) or in other countries prior to 1933." In an appended note, however, Altmeyer credits an early use of the term to [Simon Bolivar]. "(I)n a memorable address in Angostura in 1819" he says, Bolivar "used this very term, saying 'The system of government most perfect is that which produces the greatest amount of happiness possible, the greatest amount of social security, and the greatest amount of political stability.'" [1]

See also


  1. Arthur J. Altmeyer, The Formative Years of Social Security: A Chronicle of Social Security Legislation and Administration, 1934-1954." Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1968. p. 3.