in: Esther Schüring / Markus Loewe (Hrsg.), Handbook on Social Protection Systems, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 123–133
Almost two decades ago, the notion of micro-insurance raised a new wave of attention among practitioners and researchers in many world regions but the concept is much older. In fact, a large part of today’s insurance companies in Europe and North America started as mutual insurance unions in the nineteenth century with low contribution rates, i.e. informal micro-insurance arrangements. Since about the year 2000, the concept was sparked in the international development debate by the fact that an increasing number of academics and practitioners had understood that more conventional social protection strategies (social insurance and assistance) had obviously failed at covering larger shares of people in low- and middle-income countries. A majority of the world population remained vulnerable to manifold risks such as bad health, work disability and unemployment. Of course, the failure was at least partly due to the fact that many governments had tried only half-heartedly to extend the outreach of their social insurance and assistance schemes but there was little reason to hope that governments would change in the short term. New avenues had to be sought in order to extend the overall coverage of social protection systems at a faster pace.the overall coverage of social protection systems at a faster pace.