This text brings the case of Iranian social insurance (SI) to bear on the processes Iranian politics from 1941 to 1960. It holds that the political needs of upper (1941-51) and of the early autocratic regime (1953-1960) helped to shape SI's nature, extent, and limits. A key objective was to propagandistically use a minimal version of SI to try undermining communist and workers' trade unionist agitation. Iranian SI had two rationales. Although a few workers demanded SI measures during the Constitutional Revolution, the first SI program (1922, 1931, 1933) covered government employees, i.e. was a function of state-building. This paper focuses on a second program, targeting non-government workers. Starting in 1936 (1943, 1949), it was meant to tackle the social and political challenges posed by a nascent industrial working class. However, throughout the 1940s, workers' SI laws remained a dead letter, and the first integrated SI bureaucracy (1953), although ensuring 180,000 people, was in reality quite inefficient.