Social protection spending in Greece represented 20.5 pct of the country’s GDP in 2015, according to figures released by Eurostat on Monday. This was slightly higher than both the Eurozone average ratio (20.1 pct of GDP) and the EU28 average ratio (19.2 pct of GDP).
Social protection expenditure in EU member-states ranged from 9.6 pct of GDP in Ireland to 25.6 pct of GDP in Finland in that year. Eight member-states (Finland, France, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Greece and Belgium) spent more than 20 pct of GDP on social protection while Ireland, the Baltic states, Romania, Cyprus, Malta and the Czech Republic spend less than 13 pct.
The spending related to old age (pensions etc) was the biggest social protection outlay for all EU countries, representing 10.3 pct of GDP, with Greece topping the list at 15.7 pct of GDP, followed by Italy (13.8 pct), France (13.6 pct), Finland (13.4 pct) and Austria (13.1 pct). The lowest rates were in Ireland (2.4 pct), Cyprus and Lithuania (5.8 pct).
The second largest category state spending after social protection in all EU countries was healthcare, running at 7.2 pct of GDP on average, followed by ‘general public services’ (6.2 pct of GDP), education (4.9 pct of GDP) and economic affairs (4.3 pct of GDP).
In Greece during the same period, state spending on healthcare was relatively low at 4.5 pct of GDP but among the highest in the EU for general public services (9.9 pct of GDP) topped only by Cyprus with 10.2 pct of GDP. Spending on education in Greece was 4.3 pct of GDP, while Greece again ranked first for economic affairs spending (8.9 pct) and defence spending (2.7 pct of GDP).