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criticisms was a cause of greatencouragement and consolation to the aged author, who could feel that, after all, he had not been prevented by time, the enemy, from delivering his words to the world.
But, all the same, time's winged chariot was hurrying near. “Old age,” as he wrote in the Preface to Industry and Trade, “ indicates that my time for thought and speech is nearly ended.” The composition of great Treatises is not, like that of great pictures, a work which can be continued into extreme old age. Much of his complete scheme of ordered knowledge would never be delivered. Yet his determination and his courage proved just equal to the publication of one more volume.
His powers of concentration and of memory were now beginning to fail somewhat rapidly. More and more he had to live for the book alone and to save for that every scrap of his strength. Talk with visitors tired him too much and interfered too seriously with his power of work. More and more Mrs. Marshall had to keep them away from him, and he lived alone with her, struggling with Time. He would rest much, listening to his favourite melodies on the auto-piano, which was a great solace to him during the last ten years of his life, or hearing Mrs. Marshall read over again a familiar novel. Each night he walked alone in the dark along the Madingley Road. On his seventy-eighth birthday he said that he did not much want a future life. When Mrs. Marshall asked him whether he would not like to return to this world at intervals of (say) a hundred years, to see what was happening, he replied that he should like it from pure curiosity. “My own thoughts,” he went on, “ turn more and more on the millions of worlds which may have reached a high state of morality before ours became habitable, and the other millions of worlds that may have a similar development after our sun has become cool and our world uninhabitable.” i His greatest difficulty, he said, about believing in a future life was that he did not know at what stage of existence it could begin. One could hardly believe that apes had a future life or even the early stages of tree-dwelling human beings. Then at what stage could such an immense change as a future life begin?
Weaknesses of digestion, which had troubled him all his life, increased in later years. In September, 1921, in his eightieth year, he made the following notes :—“Tendency of work to bring on feeling of pressure in the head, accompanied by weariness, is increasing; and it troubles me. I must work on, so far as strength permits, for about two full years (or say four years of half-time) if that is allowed to me : after that, I can say 'Nunc dimittis.' I care little for length of life for its own sake. I want only so to arrange my work as to increase my chance of saying those things which I think of chief importance."
1 Cf. the remarkable footnote to p. 101 of Money, Credit and Commerce.
In August, 1922, soon after his eightieth birthday, Money, Credit and Commerce was finished, and it was published in the following year, 1923. The scope of the volume differed from his design, in that it did not include " a study of the influences on the conditions of man's life and work which are exerted by the resources available for employment.” But he managed to bring within the covers of a book his chief contributions to the theories of Money and of Foreign Trade. The book is mainly pieced together from earlier fragments, some of them written fifty years before, as has been recorded above, where also the nature of his main contributions to these subjects have been summarised, It shows the marks of old age in a way which Industry and Trade did not. But it contains a quantity of materials and ideas, and collects together passages which are otherwise inaccessible to the student or difficult of access. “If much of it might have been written in the 'eighties of last century,” Professor Edgeworth wrote of it in the ECONOMIC JOURNAL, "much of it will be read in the 'eighties of this century.”
“Although old age presses on me," he wrote in the Preface to Money, Credit and Commerce, “I am not without hopes that some of the notions which I have formed as to the possibilities of social advance may yet be published.” Up to his last illness, in spite of loss of memory and great feebleness of body, he struggled to piece together one more volume. It was to have been called Progress : its Economic Conditions. But the task was too great. In a way his faculties were still strong. In writing a short letter he was still himself. One day in his eighty-second year he said that he was going to look at Plato's Republic, for he would like to try and write about the kind of Republic that Plato would wish for, had he lived now. But though, as of old, he would sit and write, no advance was possible.
In these last days, with deep-set and shining eyes, wisps of white hair, and black cap on his head, he bore, more than ever, the aspect of a Sage or Prophet. At length his strength ebbed from him. But he would wake each morning, forgetful of his condition and thinking to begin his day's work as usual. On July 13, 1924, a fortnight before his eighty-second birthday, he passed away into rest.
J. M. KEYNES
Note.—There are several allusions in the above to a “ Bibliographical Note." It has proved necessary, however, to postpone the publication of this until the December JOURNAL.
THE FAMILY ALLOWANCE SYSTEM 1
General Remarks THE systems of wage payment in operation in various countries before the war were the result largely of the application of the doctrines of individualism. In fixing rates of wages almost no attempt was made to take direct account of the greater needs of workers with families to maintain, and with rare exceptions the universal practice was for the same wage rate to be fixed for all workers of a given grade in a given establishment or district without regard to their family responsibilities; in other words the principle of equal pay for equal work so far as men were concerned received general acceptance.
It is true that in the processes of collective bargaining the workers' unions frequently urged the claims of the wage earners to a living wage based on the needs of a family, but in so far as consideration was given to this claim the conception of the standard family appears to have been generally adopted by both employers and workers, and the latter in most cases considered their object to be attained if a wage adequate for a family of average size were secured.
The wage rates actually fixed for any group of workers were, apart from the influence of custom, determined largely by the demand for and the supply of their labour, and the general effect of paying the same wage thus fixed to unmarried and to married workers was that the former had a surplus, while the latter frequently experienced a deficiency. As was pointed out by M. Romanet, one of the pioneers of the family allowance system in France,“ to give the same wage to an unmarried man and to a married man with a large family is the same thing as putting on the table the same quantity of food for the one as for the other. The unmarried man will have a surplus while the married man will be unable to supply his needs.” 2
During the war, the rise in the cost of living led to the practice
1 For details of the application of the family allowance system in various countries, reference may be made to an objective study on the subject published by the International Labour Office. Miss Rathbone, in her book, The Dis. inherited Family, (London, 1924), gives the arguments in favour of the system and outlines the case of the opposition.
: Chronique Sociale de France, May 1922, p. 317.
of adding cost of living bonuses to the basic wages, and in a number of countries these bonuses were frequently differentiated in relation to family needs. In this way attention was directed to the principle “to each according to his needs,” which during recent years has found numerous advocates.1
From some points of view the application of this principle may be regarded as a means of securing a better distribution of that portion of the national dividend which is paid to the wage earners. The problem is how best to distribute the amount actually being paid in wages, and it may be agreed that, apart from undesirable consequences, there will be an increase in economic welfare from the application of the principle of distribution according to needs. This conclusion is a special case of Professor Pigou's generalisation that, other things being equal, an increase in the proportion of the national dividend accruing to the poor will probably increase economic welfare, the poor here being the workers with large families to maintain.
Distribution according to family needs may in itself involve no change in the total wage bill of a group of workers, and be merely a redistribution by which the resources of workers with families larger than the average are increased at the expense of those with families smaller than the average. One of the chief reasons, however, for the adoption of the family allowance system in a number of European countries during the war appears to have been that there was a general reduction in real wages, and the change in the method of distribution served to diminish the hardships especially of those with large families. The principle of equal pay had to give way, and that of payment according to need was adopted to a greater or less extent.
Recent Developments In most countries in Continental Europe the family allowance system was widely applied during the war. With the return to more normal conditions after the war, there was in a number of countries a reversion to the system of equal pay, and since about the beginning of 1921, especially in the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and Italy, family allowances have rarely, if at all, been paid in the case of workers in private industry, although in several of these countries they continue to be paid to State and other public administrative officials and workers. The conditions, however, which led to the application of the family allowance system in various countries during the war and in the years immediately succeeding it still prevail in certain countries in Central Europe owing to the effects of currency depreciation. In these countries and particularly in Germany, the family allowance system is widely applied, and is one of the means of mitigating the effects of the fall in real wages. In Germany the family allowance system applies to several millions of workers, including all or a large part of those in the mining, metal, chemical and printing industries as well as bank employees, State officials and manual workers in State employment. But even with the payment of allowances for wife and children the real wages of married workers in most occupations have, during recent years, been well below the pre-war level.
1 The principle had already received some application before the war, for example in the case of State employees in certain public administrative depart. ments in France.
· For example an increase in the birth rate in countries already adequately populated. This question is discussed in the section on the objects of family allowances.
3 The problem was not one of increasing welfare but of reducing the amount of decrease.
The application during and since the war of the family allowance system—in other words of a system of distribution according to needs—as a means of mitigating the worst effects of a low level of real wages, suggests that while the principle of equal pay (to men) for equal work may be fairly satisfactory in countries or industries which are relatively prosperous, a case may be made out for the application of the system of distribution according to need where the incomes of those with families to maintain would otherwise be seriously inadequate. Thus it might with advantage be applied in the case of certain low-paid industries; for example, in some of the industries in which Trade Boards have been set up.1 It may be added that by the regulations governing a number of family allowance schemes, the allowances are paid only in respect of workers whose wages are below a given amount. Sometimes the allowances are diminished as the wage increases, and this course appears preferable to that of paying the allowances in full to all workers below a given wage and not at all to workers above that wage.?
Of the countries in which the family allowance system has been applied, France has devoted the greatest attention
1 In this connection it may be noted that in a number of countries, unemploy. ment insurance benefits are differentiated according to family needs.
? The latter system is open to the objection that workers just below the maximum wage for which allowances are paid may be better off by remaining at such a wage and continuing to draw the allowances than if they advance to a higher wage. No. 135.–VOL. XXXIV.