In 2015, the EU 28 Member States reported nearly €153 billion of government expenditure on 'recreation, culture and religion'. This figure is equivalent to 1.0% of the EU's GDP. In comparison, this is much lower than the amount spent on other main functions such as 'social protection' (expenditure equivalent to 19.2% of GDP in 2015), 'health' (7.2%), 'education' (4.9%) or even 'defence' (1.4%). However, it is higher than public expenditure on 'environmental protection' (0.8%) and 'housing and community amenities' (0.6%).
Highest share of expenditure on 'recreation, culture and religion' in Hungary, lowest in Ireland
In 2015, the ratio to GDP of government expenditure for 'recreation, culture and religion' varied across EU Member States. Ireland (0.6%), Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom (all three 0.7%) spent the least in relative terms, while Hungary (2.1%) and Estonia (2.0%) spent the most. 21 of the 28 Member States recorded a ratio of 1.0% or more.
The source dataset can be found here.
Luxembourg and Denmark spent most per inhabitant on 'recreation, culture and religion'
The ranking is quite different when the amounts spent are put into perspective with the size of the population of each Member State. An expenditure above 800 euros per inhabitant was registered in Luxembourg (with €1 068) as well as in Denmark (€843). They were followed at a distance by Finland (€565), the Netherlands (€561), Sweden (€499), Austria (€487), Belgium (€437) and France (€435). At the opposite end of the scale, expenditure stood below 150 euros per inhabitant in Romania (€97), Bulgaria (€106), Greece (€113), Lithuania (€120), Poland (€126), Portugal (€130) and Slovakia (€149). On average in 2015, expenditure on 'recreation, culture and religion' amounted to €299 per inhabitant in the EU.
You can read more about general government expenditure for 'recreation, culture and religion' (according to the Classification of the Functions of Government - COFOG) in our online article. An interactive infographic is also available on the Eurostat website.
Please also read our previously published news item on a similar topic:
General government expenditure on defence.