Public social spending hovers above 20% of GDP on average in OECD countries
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in January 2019 published a new report revealing that public social spending in OECD countries was just above 20% of GDP on average in 2018. Public spending on areas such as pensions, healthcare, and unemployment benefits was highest in France (31.2%), Belgium (28.9%) and Denmark (28.7%) and lowest in Mexico (7.5%), Chile (10.9%) and Korea (11.1%).
Pensions spending is the biggest item of public social spending (8% of GDP), followed by public spending on health (5.7% of GDP). With declining GDP, the public pension spending-to-GDP ratio in Greece increased from 12.5% in 2008 to 16.9% in 2015, while public spending on pensions in Italy was also high at 16.2% of GDP.
France spends the most public money on health (8.8%) followed by the United States (8.5%), and while private social spending on health is an additional 1.6% of GDP in France, it is as much as 6.8% in the United States.
The global economic recovery has led to public spending on unemployment benefits falling from 1% of GDP on average in 2010 to 0.7% of GDP in 2015, with the sharpest drops in Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and the United States.
Public spending on social services (including services for the elderly and disabled, family services and childcare, housing and other services) as a percentage of GDP grew rapidly before 2010, at an average of 3.6% annually. It has continued to grow since but at a slower rate (0.9% per year over the following five years).
Private social spending, such as private health insurance schemes, private pensions or employer-provided sick-pay totaled, on average, 3.6% of GDP across the OECD in 2015, of which 1.9% was mandatory and 1.7% voluntary. Private social expenditure is most important in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States where it amounted to 12-13% of GDP in 2015.
The 8-page report, together with the data in Excel format, can be downloaded here.