Eurostat noted that the ratio of government social protection expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States from less than 10% in Ireland (9.5%) to nearly a quarter in Finland (24.9%).
Six Member States – Finland, France, Denmark, Italy, Austria and Sweden – devoted at least 20% of GDP to social protection, while Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Romania, Czechia and Bulgaria each spent less than 13% of GDP on social protection.
Social protection expenditure can be further broken down into a number of detailed groups.
The group ‘old age’, which includes pensions, accounted for 10.1 % of GDP in the EU in 2017. It made up the largest part of social protection expenditure in all Member States, with the highest shares being registered in Greece and Finland (both 13.8 %), followed by France and Italy (both 13.4 %) as well as Austria (12.5 %).
In contrast, Ireland (3.4 %), Lithuania (5.7 %) and Cyprus (6.0 %) recorded the lowest shares.
‘Social protection’ and ‘health’ are the only two functions whose shares in total government expenditure increased during the period from 2007 to 2017. In the EU, social protection expenditure increased its share of total expenditure from 38.2 % to 41.1 %, Eurostat added.
As regards the other categories, the Eurostat figures show 2.9% of Cyprus GDP going to family and children, 1.5% to social exclusion and 0.6% to unemployment.