- In 2015, the UK was ninth out of 28 countries, when ranked in terms of the size of its social protection expenditure as a proportion of its gross domestic product (GDP).
- The UK’s social protection expenditure was worth 28.4% of GDP in 2015; for the same year, France spent the most on social protection, worth a sum equivalent to 32.0% of its GDP.
- Compared with France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway, in 2015 the UK spent the highest proportion of its social protection expenditure on housing, representing 4.7% of social protection expenditure; this compares with the next highest proportion of 2.6% spent by France.
- Compared with France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway, in 2015, the UK spent the lowest proportion on unemployment, representing just 1.4% of the total social protection expenditure; at the same time, the UK rate of unemployment was higher than that of both Germany and Norway.
Social protection comprises the various benefits provided to households, usually by public bodies, to help with their needs. Social protection can be in the form of cash payments, for example, unemployment benefit, old age pension or children’s allowance; or in the form of benefits in kind, such as hospital stays or free school meals.
The European System of integrated Social Protection Statistics (ESSPROS) provides internationally comparable data on social protection. This article examines social protection in the UK and how it compares with selected countries, which include Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Norway and represent countries that spend comparable amounts on social protection as measured in terms of a percentage of gross domestic product. Norway also provides an interesting comparison because, except for Luxembourg, it spends more per head on social protection than any other European country. Luxembourg is an unusual case given the high percentage of its workforce that are not resident.
The latest available data are for 2015. For further social protection data ESSPROS is published on the Eurostat website.Back to table of contents
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