The Making of the Swedish Life Insurance Market 1855-1914

Sammanfattning: This licentiate thesis examines the development of the life insurance industry during the period 1855-1914. The aim with the study is to recognise dimensions not frequently addressed by previous research on the insurance industry, namely the impact of social dimensions, including the implicit and explicit economic importance of social movements and the diffusion of knowledge in society at large for the development of the life insurance industry. The study shows that income and price had limited importance in explaining the demand for life insurance before the 20th century and that this can be attributed to a lack of sufficient knowledge regarding financial issues and to a far too high access cost in acquiring a life insurance for a large part of society. The development of the life insurance industry must therefore be understood through improved knowledge both on the part of the life insurance companies and on part of the consumers. The licentiate further shows how diffusion of knowledge throughout society also was due to a diffusion of democratic ideas and the rise of social movements, movements that life insurance actors were a part of. These actions helped open up the financial market for the masses and probably also strengthened the trust towards the industry. It is however hard to dismiss the life insurance actors’ engagement in women’s movement as a cover-up for other disguised motives not so honourable, while a direct economic gain for the life insurance industry is hard to establish.