chapter  2
19 Pages

Securing by capitalizing life

In early eighteenth-century Britain, within the context of the agricultural/agrarian and financial revolutions, the emergence and rapid development of a growing landless gentlemen class fostered demand for a new type of security: life insurance. The law of large numbers, developed in the Low Countries in the second half of the seventeenth century, provided the basis for a new regime of calculation and a system for measuring uncertainty. This system found its first commercial application in the London life insurance market. The emergence of probabilistic life insurance in early eighteenth-century Britain highlights a remarkable relationship between insurance and security: the security of the land became intrinsically related to the insurability of lives.