Social protection benefits expenditure as a percentage of GDP has increased in all EU Member States (with available early estimates) comparing 2020 with 2019. However, this is partly because nominal GDP has decreased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This information comes from early estimates on social protection expenditure, published recently by Eurostat. They are the main headline indicators for the European System of integrated Social Protection Statistics (ESSPROS) and are being provided by the reporting countries on a voluntary basis.
Among the Member States for which 2020 estimates are available, social protection benefits expenditure as a percentage of GDP was highest in France (36% of GDP), Austria (34%) and Italy (33%), while it was lowest in Ireland (15%), as well as Latvia, Hungary and Lithuania (all 18%).
In fact, the percentage change in social protection expenditure between 2019 and 2020 (in national currency), confirms the increase in all Member States for which 2020 estimates are available.
The largest increases were recorded in Malta (+28% compared with 2019), Ireland (+21%) and Cyprus (+18%). The smallest increases were recorded in Sweden (+4%), Croatia and Denmark (both +5%).
Old age and sickness/health care benefits made up the major part of social protection benefits in all the Member States for which data are available. Other categories included disability, survivors, family/children, unemployment, housing and social exclusion.
The source datasets for 2020 early estimates on social protection benefits are available on Eurostat’s website section on social protection statistics.
The full set of social protection data is available, for 2019 and previous years, in the database dedicated to social protection statistics.
For more information:
- Eurostat Statistics Explained article on Social protection statistics - social benefits
- Eurostat dedicated section on social protection
- Eurostat section on social protection early estimates
- Eurostat database on social protection
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