Global Cooperation

These countries spend the most, and the least, on social benefits

a boy with a France sports shirts sits on an adults shoulders looking out to a crowd

France tops the list. Image: Unsplash/Matthieu Joannon

Katharina Buchholz
Data Journalist, Statista
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  • Social spending as a share of GDP has generally declined in OECD countries over the past decade.
  • France remains the country most committed to social benefits, with almost a third of French GDP spent on social services by the government in 2019.
  • Scandinavian countries appear high up on the ranking, with Denmark, Sweden and Norway all spending more than 25%.
  • The OECD average was 20%.

While social spending as a share of GDP has generally declined in OECD countries over the past ten years, France remains the country which is most generous in terms of its social benefits. In 2019, the equivalent of almost a third of French GDP was spent on social services by the government. Finland boasts the next highest spending rate at 29 percent. Most Scandinavian countries appear high up on the ranking. Denmark, Sweden and Norway all spent more than 25 percent. Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium also make spending on social benefits a priority.

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a chart showing which countries spend the most on social spending as a percentage of GDP
France spends nearly a third of its GDP on benefits. Image: Statista

Anglo countries rank a bit lower, at around the OECD average of 20 percent. OECD countries spending surprisingly little on social causes are the Netherland (16.1 percent), Ireland (13.4 percent) and South Korea (12.2 percent). Korea’s low rate is beat by Costa Rica and Colombia. In the OECD, only Turkey, Chile and Mexico had lower spending rates.

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Global CooperationHealth and Healthcare Systems
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