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DURATION OF DISABILITY AND LOSS OF EARNING POWER.
Under the German system compensation for accidents is paid in the form of annuities or pensions which continue during disability; the injured person must, however, undergo reexamination at intervals during the receipt of his pension and the amount of his annuity or pension is revised according to the decision of a board as to the earning power of the pensioner at the time of these examinations. If the condition of the workman becomes worse that is, if his earning power decreases with the lapse of time as the result of his injury-he becomes entitled to a higher pension; if, on the other hand, his condition improves—if his earning power increases with the lapse of time—the employer's association is entitled to ask for a reduction of the pension. The experience under this plan of revising pensions throws much light both on the duration of the disability and on the effect of industrial accidents in reducing the earning power of the workmen and incidentally brings out the advantages of the annuity or pension system of compensation payments. Table 14 shows, first, the proportion of pensioners who drop out after the first, the second, the third, and the fourth year of receipt of pension; second, the proportion of pensioners who are still on the roll in about the fifth year from the time the pension was granted, classified by their degree of earning power; third, the proportion of pensioners who died during 5 years as a result of the injury.
Taking the first section of the table, giving the total for the industrial accident associations (not including institutes), it is seen that of the persons receiving compensation for the first time in 1904, there were 22.59 per cent who ceased to draw pensions after one year because of regaining their entire earning capacity; after the second year, 33.59 per cent of those then on the roll entirely recovered; after the third year 39.97 per cent of those then on the roll entirely recovered; after the fourth year 44.37 per cent of those then on the roll entirely recovered, and about 5 years afterwards 47.57 per cent of the persons granted compensation in 1904 were still receiving pensions; in other words, after 5 years, about one-half of the injured persons had entirely recovered their earning capacity, while during this period 8.06 per cent had died as the result of the accident. The experience of the agricultural accident associations shows that a somewhat greater proportion had entirely recovered their earning capacity and a smaller proportion died as the result of the accidents.
The first subdivision of the table, giving the total for the industrial accident associations (not including institutes), is also of interest in showing that there has been an increase in the proportion of those who entirely recover their earning capacity after the first year of the receipt of pension; thus of the 1896 pensioners there wi
cent who entirely recovered their earning capacity after one year, while of the 1907 pensioners there were 25.83 per cent who entirely recovered their earning capacity in one year. This also holds true for each of the other columns; thus those who had entirely recovered their earning capacity after 4 years of receipt of pensions granted in 1896 was 35.09 per cent, while of the pensions granted in 1904 there were 44.37 per cent who had entirely recovered after about 4 years of receipt of pension. This fact is brought out most clearly by the column giving the total number of persons still in receipt of pensions in about the fifth year after the date of granting compensation; of the 1896 pensioners 53.89 per cent were still on the pension roll in the fifth year. This proportion tended to rise for the pensioners of 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1900, but after that there was a steady and sharp decrease in this ratio, and of the 1904 pensioners the proportion who were still on the pension roll in the fifth year was 47.57 per cent. Another interesting feature is the reduction in the proportion of those who had suffered the higher degrees of loss of earning power; thus in the fifth year after 1896 those injured persons who had received pensions for about 5 years and had suffered a loss of earning power from 75 to 100 per cent, formed 2.50 per cent of the persons granted pensions in 1896. In the years following this the percentage in the same column shows, with the exception of one year, a steady tendency to decrease, and of the persons in receipt of pensions granted in 1904 only 1.87 per cent belong to the group which had sustained a loss of earning power from 75 to 100 per cent. The rate in the column showing the proportion of those who had died as a result of the injury within approximately 5 years after the receipt of pension also shows a marked tendency to decrease; thus of the persons granted pensions in 1896 there were 11.02 per cent who died, while of the persons granted pensions in 1904 there were 8.06 per cent who died after having received pensions for about 5 years. It may be said, therefore, that a marked improvement has taken place in the restoration of the earning power of the injured workers and that there has been a similar decrease in the proportion of those who died as the result of the injury.
In the subdivisions of the table showing the same data for the various industries, this seems to be the usual experience, though in some of the industries, especially those in which the number of injured persons is less than 1,000, variations from this rule are found. In some instances the decrease in the industry group is quite marked; in the case of the inland navigation group 32.40 per cent of the pensioners put on the roll in 1896 died within the following 5 years, while of those pensioned in 1904 this proportion had been reduced to 22.35 per cent; marine navigation shows a similar decrease from 28.97 per cent
of the 1896 to 22.49 per cent of the 1904 pensioners. In some of the smaller groups, such for instance as that of the silk industry, the proportionate decrease has been even more marked; in this industry group 4.76 per cent of those granted pensions in 1896 died in about 5 years as the result of the injuries, while of those granted pensions in 1904 only 1.04 per cent died from the same cause.
In view of the decreases in the proportion of those sustaining the higher degrees of loss of earning power it is but natural to find that the proportion of those sustaining a loss of earning power of 25 per cent or less has undergone much change during the period included in the table.
The industry group which shows the highest proportion of injured persons still on the pension rolls after about 5 years is that of metal working (associations 12 and 13); of the pensions granted in 1904 there were 86.74 per cent of the pensioners still in receipt of their pensions on an average of 5 years afterwards, and there is little change in this proportion during the period given in the table. Although the total has not changed it is seen that there is a distinct improvement in the character of the disabilities included in this total; thus while the proportion of persons suffering a disability of under 25 per cent has increased considerably, there is a corresponding decrease in the more serious degrees of disability. The death rate also shows an improvement and is below the average for all industrial accident associations.
The industry group with the next highest proportion of injured persons still on the pension rolls at the end of 5 years is that of pottery (association 16), with 64.71 per cent of the pensions granted in 1904 still in force at about 5 years afterwards; while there has been some fluctuation in this proportion during the period included in the table, the proportion of the 1904 pensioners is not very different from that of the 1896 pensioners. The proportion who have sustained a loss of earning power of 25 per cent or less is practically the same for the pensioners of 1896 and of 1904; the proportion of pensioners who sustained a loss of earning power of from 25 to 50 per cent has varied during the period in question, but is practically the same for the 1904 as for the 1897 pensioners; the proportion of pensioners sustaining a loss of earning power of 50 to 75 per cent also fluctuated during the period and was not very different for the 1904 pensioners as compared with the 1896 pensioners; the proportion of pensioners suffering a loss of earning power of from 75 to 100 per cent seems to show a tendency to decrease during the period in the table, and the same is true for the proportion of those who died in the 5-year period. The industry groups of metal working and of pottery are conspicuous in the high proportion of permanent disabilities which the injured
persons sustained. Following these two groups the groups having 50 per cent or more of the pensioners still on the pension rolls at the end of 5 years are as follows: Linen (association 20) with 60.74 per cent, printing and publishing (association 55) with 59.68 per cent, leather (association 30) with 58.90 per cent, textiles (associations 20–27) with 58.74 per cent, paper products (association 29) with 56.78 per cent, musical instruments (association 14) with 55.86 per cent, clothing (association 41) with 54.53 per cent, tobacco (association 40) with 54.43 per cent, sugar (association 37) with 53.43 per cent, gas and water works (association 19) with 53.38 per cent, fine mechanical products (association 3) with 52.82 per cent, dairying, distilling, starch, etc., (association 38) with 52.78 per cent, private railways (association 56) with 51.11 per cent, silk (association 27) with 51.04 per cent, iron and steel (associations 4-11,66) with 50.39 per cent, woodworking (associations 31-34) with 50.21 per cent, chemicals (association 18) with 50.03 per cent. With one exception all of these groups show a lower percentage of persons on the pension roll at the end of 5 years in the case of the 1904 pensioners as contrasted with the 1896 pensioners; the exception is the group private railways (association 56), which had 46.22 per cent of the 1896 pensioners on the roll after about 5 years, and this proportion steadily increased during the succeeding 5 years, since which time, however, there has been a decrease, and the 1904 pensioners show approximately the same proportion as the 1897 pensioners; the proportion of pensioners who died during the 5-year period is much above the average for all industrial accident associations, and during the period given in the table has varied between 14.02 per cent and 28 per cent; similarly the proportion of those who still had a loss of earning power from 75 to 100 per cent at the end of 5 years was much above the average, being 8.14 per cent of the pensions granted in 1904.
All of the other industry groups had less than 50 per cent of the pensioners on the pension rolls after about 5 years, the lowest two groups being inland navigation (associations 60–62) and marine navigation (association 63), the former having 33.87 per cent and the latter 37.80 per cent of the pensions granted in 1904 still in force after about 5 years. Each of these groups, however, has had a high death rate of its pensioners, while the proportion of those sustaining the various degrees of loss of earning power does not differ greatly from the average for all industries.
TABLE 14.-DURATION OF DISABILITY AND LOSS OF EARNING POWER: PER CENT OF
INJURED PERSONS RECOVERING FROM INJURIES WITHIN FIVE YEARS AND LOSS OF
EARNING POWER OF THOSE STILL DISABLED, BY INDUSTRY GROUPS, 1896 TO 1907. [Source: Amtliche Nachrichten des Reichs-Versicherungsamts, 1910. I Beiheft, III Teil. Gewerbe-l' nfall
statistik für das Jahr 1907, pp. 228-253.)