18 January 2022
Go to release: Social Protection Expenditure in Ireland 2020
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today (18 January 2022) published Social Protection Expenditure in Ireland 2020.
Commenting, Ciara O’Shea, Statistician said: “Social protection is a set of interventions where the objective is to reduce social and economic risk and vulnerability, and to alleviate extreme poverty and deprivation. Social protection is typically grouped into eight categories: sickness/healthcare, disability, old age, survivors, family/children, unemployment, housing and social exclusion. This publication brings together data from a variety of sources to estimate this expenditure in Ireland from 2000 to 2020.
Social protection expenditure was €58.2 billion in 2020, based on preliminary estimates. This represents 16% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 28% of Modified Gross National Income (GNI*). This was a rise of €9.8bn (20%) on 2019, which reflects increased government expenditure on social protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, expenditure on unemployment almost trebled from €2.7bn in 2019 to €7.8bn in 2020.
Spending on unemployment had dropped in recent years to stand at 6% of total social protection expenditure in 2019, but rose in 2020 to 14% due to COVID-19. The pandemic is also linked to the strong growth in expenditure on sickness between 2019 and 2020, which rose from €18.3bn to €21.5bn or by 17.5%.
Looking at how the social protection spend is distributed, we can see that expenditure on sickness / healthcare accounted for 38% of social benefits in 2020, followed by old age (27%) and unemployment (14%). The remaining components were family/children (8%), housing (5%), disability (5%) and social exclusion (1%).
Sickness/healthcare and old age account for the largest proportion of social benefit expenditure over the time series. On average, 65% of social benefit is currently spent on these categories. In 2009, the total spent in these two areas dropped below 60% as expenditure on unemployment increased around the time of the global financial crisis.
When compared with our European neighbours, Ireland’s social protection expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the lowest in the EU at 14%. France has the highest percentage at 34%. However, when expenditure is expressed as a percentage of GNI*, a measure to exclude the globalisation effects in the Irish economy, Ireland moves up to 13th place at 22%. Average expenditure in the EU on social protection was €8,769 per person in 2019. The lowest average was in Bulgaria at €1,460 while the highest was in Luxembourg at €22,172. Ireland spent €9,815 per person in 2019, above the EU average.”
Expenditure on social protection benefits, cash or in kind, are intended to protect individuals against the following risks or needs:
Expenditure on social benefits excludes expenditure on administration of these benefits.
 Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) is an indicator designed specifically to measure the size of the Irish economy by excluding globalisation effects. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of the total economic activity in the country. Ireland’s GDP includes profits that are generated here but are repatriated to the owners of companies abroad. Gross National Income excludes the net profits of companies that have been sent abroad.
Ciara M O'Shea (+353) 1 498 4312
or email email@example.com
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