Abstract: Contested Boundaries: British and Swiss Life Insurers and the Challenge of Postwar Pension Provision, 1945–1980s

Matthieu Leimgruber


Based on insurers' trade associations' archives, this paper highlights the strategies developed by life insurers vis-à-vis the expansion of state old age provision in postwar Great Britain and Switzerland. In these two countries, group pensions managed by private insurance companies have constituted a significant share of occupational old age provision since the interwar period. Accordingly, Swiss and British insurers lobbied to shape multi-tiered pension systems that would safeguard the market for private provision. However, the outcomes of these postwar pension debates were quite different: whereas British insurers developed early on the idea of "contracting out" occupational provision as a response to Labour's proposals for earnings-related pensions (1958-1970s), Swiss insurers fought for the introduction of a mandatory "second pillar" of pension provision (1968-1985). Contrasting these strategies and outcomes enables us to better understand the role of a key business constituency in social policy debates.