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Social protection: 29.1% of EU GDP

Dec 2, 2013 | News

(21 November 2013) – 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. Highest ratios are found in Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

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%).

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.

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