Social Expenditure Database (SOCX) [includes 2014 data update]

Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2014

The OECD has just updated its database on social expenditure to include data for 2014.

These new data show that in recent years Canada, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom have all experienced substantial declines in social spending as a per cent of GDP. But in most countries social spending remains at historically high levels: ratios are highest at over 30% of GDP in Denmark, Belgium, Finland and France (highest at almost 32% of GDP), with Italy, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Germany also devoting more than a quarter of their GDP to public social spending. The OECD average for 2014 was 22%.

Countries on average spent more on cash benefits (12.3% of GDP) than on social and health services (8.6% of GDP), but Nordic countries, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom had a more equal balance in spending on cash and in-kind benefits.

Cash income support to the working age population accounts for 4.4% GDP on average across the OECD, of which 1% GDP towards unemployment benefits, 1.8% on disability/sickness benefits, 1.3% on family cash benefits and another 0.4% on other social policy cash supports.

Public spending in some emerging economies is below the OECD average, lowest in India and Indonesia but highest in Brazil where – as in OECD countries – pensions and health expenditure are important areas of social spending.

The data also show that income-testing in social protection systems is much more prevalent in Anglophone and non European OECD countries than in continental Europe.