… is from page 102 of Government Failure and Over-Government, which is volume 5 in the 2004 Liberty Fund series The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon; specifically, it’s from Seldon’s 1998 monograph, The Dilemma of Democracy:
The historical evidence shows that by the 1860s most working-class children [in England] were at schools paid for by parents with the aid sometimes of the Church or lay charity. By the 1870s some working-class families, especially in the industrial North where wages were higher than in the rural South around London, were beginning to buy their homes with the aid of building societies. By the early 1910s most working-class heads of families were insuring against unemployment, sickness, and ageing. The notion that the working classes of England neglected their families until the state compelled them by law is historical fiction.
Unfortunately, ignorance of history remains a curse as it fuels fact-free theorizing and policy prescriptions (as Deirdre McCloskey pointed out last year in the greatest blog post ever written). And here’s a reminder of one specific instance of historical ignorance – this one committed by Paul Krugman – relevant to Seldon’s point above.