Sociology Index

William Henry Beveridge

Among distinguished sociologists, William Henry Beveridge was a British economist and social reformer. William Henry Beveridge is well known for his 1942 report titled Social Insurance and Allied Services, and his report served as the basis for the post-World War II welfare state of the Labour government. The report recommended a national health service, social insurance and assistance, family allowances, and full-employment policies. The report to Parliament on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in November 1942. It proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly national insurance contribution. William Henry Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall."

William Henry Beveridge was also a member of the Eugenics good genes movement, a society which promoted methods to 'improve' the human race by controlling reproduction. Beveridge even proposed that men who could not work should be supported by the state, but with complete and permanent loss of all citizen rights, franchise, civil freedom and fatherhood.

It recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the "five giants on the road of reconstruction" of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. Beveridge included as one of three fundamental assumptions the fact that there would be a National Health Service of some sort, a policy already being worked on in the Ministry of Health. - Paul Addison, "The Road to 1945", Jonathan Cape, 1975.

William Henry Beveridge's works included: Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1909), Planning Under Socialism (1936), Full Employment in a Free Society (1944), Pillars of Security (1948), Power and Influence (1953), and A Defence of Free Learning (1959).

Auguste Comte's ideas of a secular religion of humanity were a prominent influence in his household and would exert a lasting influence on Beveridge's thinking. Beveridge himself became a "materialist agnostic." William Henry Beveridge was considered an authority on unemployment insurance. Beveridge was Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science and was later elected Master of University College, Oxford.