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Social spending, a euro area cross-country comparison

Rodríguez-Vives, Marta and Linda Kezbere

Economic Bulletin Articles, 2019, vol. 5

Abstract: At a time of high government indebtedness, low structural economic growth and ageing populations, a key element in today’s policy debate is the role of government in providing its services and distributing resources to society. Government decisions on tax and social benefit systems have an important bearing on macroeconomic performance in the euro area. This article focuses on how social spending on individual households or on the provision of collective goods and services is organised in euro area countries. Choices made concerning the level and structure of social spending are country-specific and reflect societal policy preferences. The aim of this article is to review government social spending across euro area countries and how it has evolved since the pre-crisis period. It also zooms in on the different social insurance systems in euro area countries in terms of pensions and health and looks at spending on education. We devote particular attention to the analysis of pensions, as pensions represent the biggest social spending item in all countries. The article suggests that countries should look for policies and reforms to ensure the sustainability of social spending, especially in view of ageing populations and possible negative economic shocks. JEL Classification: E62, H40, H51, H52, H55

Keywords: COFOG data; education expenditure; health expenditure; pension schemes; Social protection (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-08
Note: 1649295
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