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Malta with one of the lowest spends on social protection in the EU

While almost almost a third of EU GDP is spent on social protection, Malta’s expenditure has dropped over the years, sitting below the EU average in 2015 data

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Maria Pace
10 December 2017, 2:23pm
Social protection expenditure stood at 17.5% in Malta in 2015, decreasing from 19.3% in 2010, Eurostat data shows.

Last week the the European Union's statistics office revealed that while social protection expenditure in the EU had increased slightly, from 28.6% of GDP in 2010 to 29.0%, Malta’s expenditure decreased.

In 2015, the two main sources of funding of social protection at EU level were social contributions, making up 54% of total receipts, and general government contributions from taxes at 43%.

The EU average continued to mask major disparities between member states. While in some countries, such as France, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy, expenditure represented at least  least 30% of GDP social protection expenditure stood below 20% of GDP in Romania and Latvia (both 15%), Lithuania and Estonia (both 16%), Ireland (17%), Malta, Bulgaria and Slovakia (all 18%) as well as in the Czech Republic (19%).

These disparities reflect differences in living standards, but are also indicative the diversity of national social protection systems and of the demographic, economic, social and institutional structures specific to each member state.

Social protection expenditure in the EU Member States, 2015
Social protection expenditure in the EU Member States, 2015
In 2015, social protection expenditure per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) - which eliminates price level differences between countries - showed large differences between EU Member States.

After Luxembourg, the highest expenditure per capita were recorded in Denmark and Austria (over 11 thousand PPS). In contrast, the lowest spendings per capita were registered in Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia (under 3 thousands PPS).

On average in the EU, old age and survivors benefits accounted for 45% of total social benefits in 2015 and made up the major part of social protection benefits in nearly all Member States.

Social protection expenditure by main functions in the EU, 2015
Social protection expenditure by main functions in the EU, 2015
In Malta, old age and survivors benefits resulted in the highest expenditure, standing at 51.2%, while the lowest benefits were those handed out for housing and family exclusion, at 2.5%. Family and children stood at 6.7%, Unemployment at 3%, and sickness and healthcare at 36.6%, all figures below the EU’s average.

The share of old age and survivors benefits in the total was highest in Greece (65%), Italy and Portugal (both 58%), Romania and Cyprus (both 55%), while it was lowest in Ireland (33%), Luxembourg and Germany (both 39%), the United Kingdom (41%) and Belgium (42%).

Sickness, health care and disability benefits accounted for 37% of total social benefits on average in the EU in 2015. Among member states, the share of these benefits ranged from 26% in Cyprus and Greece to over 40% in Croatia (46%), Germany and the Netherlands (both 43%), the United Kingdom (41%) and Slovakia (40%).

Family and children benefits accounted for slightly less than 9% of total social benefits on average in the EU in 2015, unemployment benefits for 5% and housing and social exclusion benefits for 4%.

The share of family benefits in the total ranged from 4% in the Netherlands to almost 16% in Luxembourg. Unemployment benefits varied between less than 1% in Romania and 12% in Ireland, and housing and social exclusion benefits from less than 1% in Greece, Estonia, Portugal and Italy to 8% in Cyprus and 7% in both Denmark and the United Kingdom.

 

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Maria Pace joined MaltaToday in 2017.