Workers' compensation was arguably the first widespread social insurance program in the United States - before social security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance - and the most successful form of labor legislation to emerge from the early progressive movement. In "A Prelude to the Welfare State", Price V. Fishback and Shawn Everett Kantor challenge widespread historical perceptions by arguing that workers' compensation, rather than being an early progressive victory, succeeded because all relevant parties - labor and management, insurance companies, lawyers, and legislators - benefited from the ruling. Rigorous and convincing, "A Prelude to the Welfare State" is a major reappraisal of the causes and consequences of a movement that ultimately transformed the nature of social insurance and the American workplace.
Price V. Fishback is the Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of Soft Coal, Hard Choices: The Economic Welfare of Bituminous Coal Miners, 1890 - 1930. Shawn Everett Kantor is professor of economics at the University of California, Merced. He is the author of Politics and Property Rights: The Closing of the Open Range in the Postbellum South, also published by the University of Chicago Press.