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EU28 Spent 29.1% of GDP on Social Protection in 2011
added: 2013-12-03

After a rise between 2008 and 2009, social protection expenditure in the EU28 fell slightly from 29.7% of GDP in 2009 to 29.4% in 2010 and 29.1% in 2011, according to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The increase observed in the ratio between 2008 and 2009 was mainly a result of the economic crisis, as total social protection expenditure in nominal terms in the EU28 grew (particularly due to the strong growth of unemployment benefits), while GDP fell. The fall between 2009 and 2011 was due to social protection expenditure growing more slowly than GDP. This fall masks different trends at Member State level. In 2011, the two main sources of funding of social protection at EU28 level were general government contributions from taxes, making up 40% of total receipts, and social contributions at 56%.

The EU28 average continued to mask major disparities between Member States. Social protection expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 30% or more in 2011 in Denmark (34.3%), France (33.6%), the Netherlands (32.3%), Belgium (30.4%), Greece (30.2%) and Finland (30.0%), and below 20% in Latvia (15.1%), Estonia (16.1%), Romania (16.3%), Lithuania (17.0%), Bulgaria (17.7%), Slovakia (18.2%), Malta (18.9%) and Poland (19.2%). These disparities reflect differences in living standards, but are also indicative of the diversity of national social protection systems and of the demographic, economic, social and institutional structures specific to each Member State.

Expenditure per capita seven times higher in Luxembourg than in Romania

In 2011, social protection expenditure per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards), which eliminates price level differences between countries, was nearly seven times higher in Luxembourg than in Romania. After Luxembourg, the highest spending per capita was recorded in the Netherlands and Denmark at around 40% above the EU28 average, followed by Austria at around 30% above the average, and France, Germany and Sweden at around 25% above. The lowest spending per capita was registered in Romania and Bulgaria at less than 30% of the EU28 average.

Highest share for old age & survivors benefits in Italy and Poland

On average in the EU28, old age & survivors benefits accounted for 46% of total social benefits in 2011, and were the major part of social protection benefits in nearly all Member States. The share of old age & survivors benefits in the total was highest in Italy (61%), Poland (58%), Portugal, Latvia and Malta (all 55%), and lowest in Ireland (23%), Luxembourg (37%) and Croatia (38%).

Sickness/health care & disability benefits accounted for 37% of total social benefits on average in the EU28 in 2011. They represented the largest share of social protection benefits in Germany, Ireland, Croatia and the Netherlands. Amongst the Member States, the share of these benefits ranged from 26% in Cyprus and 30% in Latvia to 51% in Croatia and 49% in Ireland.

Family benefits accounted for 8% of total social benefits on average in the EU28 in 2011, unemployment benefits for 6% and housing & social exclusion benefits for 4%. The share of family benefits in the total ranged from 4% in the Netherlands to 16% in Luxembourg. Unemployment benefits varied between 2% in Poland, Romania and
Croatia and 15% in Spain, and housing & social exclusion benefits between less than 1% in Italy and Croatia and 11% in Cyprus.

Source: Eurostat

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