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Social Assistance Programs

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Social Welfare Spending by Country 2024

Social welfare encompasses government programs and policies designed to improve the well-being and economic security of those within a society. As such, its primary objective is to provide aid and support to those facing things like unemployment, disability, poverty, old age, systemic inequality, and more.

While it may sound simple, social welfare is often a subject of debate, as different governments have varying views on how programs should be applied and funded, and specific programs can vary widely depending on a country’s cultural, political, and economic standing.

Here’s a list of the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of their total GDP spent on social welfare, including benefits and administrative costs.

  1. South Africa:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 4.61%
    • Data Years: 2016-2020
  2. Colombia:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 3.44%
    • Data Years: 2015-2020
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2021): $2,627.80
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2020): $2,605.20
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2019): $2,278.70
  3. Argentina:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 3.26%
    • Data Years: 2020
  4. Egypt:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 2.92%
    • Data Years: 2015-2020
  5. Algeria:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 2.28%
    • Data Years: 2015-2021
  6. India:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 1.43%
    • Data Years: 2016
  7. China:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 1.05%
    • Data Years: 2015-2016
  8. United States:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 0%
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2021): $15,257.60
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2020): $11,777.40
  9. Mexico:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 1.62%
    • Data Years: 2019-2020
    • Social Expenditure per Capita (2019): $1,481.70
  10. Thailand:

    • Social Assistance Programs: 1.6%
    • Data Years: 2018-2020
Notes:
- Social assistance expenditure refers to spending on benefits and administrative costs.
- Annual social assistance (SA) expenditure is calculated by aggregating program-level social assistance data for the most recent available year between the period 2015-2021.
- Expenditure is aggregated into standardized social assistance categories, which are then aggregated to calculate overall social assistance expenditure.
- Total social assistance expenditure is divided by country GDP (current values) to calculate the indicator.
- GDP data is obtained from the WB World Development Indicators (WDI).

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Country
Social Assistance Programs
Data Years
Social Expenditure per Capita 2021 (USD)
Social Expenditure per Capita 2020 (USD)
Social Expenditure per Capita 2019
Central African Republic555%2015---
Georgia9.27%2020---
Lesotho5.57%2017---
Ukraine5.44%2017-2021---
Timor Leste5.31%2015-2016---
South Africa4.61%2016-2020---
Tonga4.45%2021---
Dominica4.14%2015-2018---
Trinidad and Tobago3.71%2017-2018---
Chile3.53%2015-2018$5,570.80$3,712.10$2,940.20
Colombia3.44%2015-2020$2,627.80$2,605.20$2,278.70
Argentina3.26%2020---
Mauritius3.26%2015---
Botswana2.97%2018-2019---
Egypt2.92%2015-2020---
Namibia2.81%2018---
Bosnia and Herzegovina2.79%2015-2017---
Libya2.72%2019-2021---
Kyrgyzstan2.58%2018---
Seychelles2.58%2015-2020---
Belarus2.38%2015-2017---
Mauritania2.33%2015-2016---
Algeria2.28%2015-2021---
Estonia2.25%2016-2017--$6,465.20
Mongolia2.17%2016---
Burundi2.15%2015-2021---
Morocco1.99%2015-2021---
Grenada1.96%2015---
Mozambique1.92%2015-2021---
Bolivia1.9%2015---
Albania1.87%2018-2020---
Hungary1.83%2016-2017--$5,910.70
North Macedonia1.76%2017-2020---
Montenegro1.75%2018-2020---
Maldives1.66%2021---
Mexico1.62%2019-2020--$1,481.70
Kazakhstan1.62%2016-2017---
Thailand1.6%2018-2020---
Nepal1.6%2015-2021---
Vietnam1.55%2015-2016---
Armenia1.53%2017---
Jamaica1.51%2018---
Slovakia1.48%2016-2017--$5,579.60
India1.43%2016---
Burkina Faso1.41%2015-2016---
Afghanistan1.4%2020---
El Salvador1.36%2017-2019---
Dominican Republic1.31%2018-2021---
Iraq1.29%2021---
Kiribati1.29%2016---
Brazil1.28%2018---
Paraguay1.28%2016-2017---
Guatemala1.26%2016-2020---
Peru1.23%2015-2021---
Romania1.21%2015-2018---
Serbia1.19%2019-2020---
Russia1.17%2016-2018---
Uruguay1.14%2015---
Turkey1.13%2019--$3,369
Moldova1.11%2015-2017---
Bulgaria1.09%2017-2019---
China1.05%2015-2016---
Ecuador1.05%2015---
Poland1.04%2016-2017--$7,081.90
Latvia1.02%2016-2017--$5,269.80
Jordan1%2015-2021---
Sierra Leone0.98%2017-2019---
Bhutan0.97%2020-2021---
Sudan0.92%2015-2016---
Guinea0.9%2015---
Cambodia0.89%2015---
Senegal0.86%2015---
Panama0.83%2015---
Czech Republic0.79%2016-2017--$8,341.30
Bangladesh0.77%2015-2019---
Tajikistan0.77%2018-2021---
Uzbekistan0.75%2017---
Fiji0.73%2015-2016---
Ethiopia0.7%2016-2017---
Rwanda0.69%2015-2020---
DR Congo0.68%2016---
Mali0.61%2016-2021---
Azerbaijan0.6%2019-2020---
Malaysia0.57%2015-2016---
Indonesia0.55%2016---
Philippines0.55%2015-2016---
Angola0.49%2015-2021---
Tunisia0.48%2019---
Republic of the Congo0.43%2015-2021---
Lithuania0.43%2015-2016--$6,549.10
Niger0.42%2015-2017---
Pakistan0.41%2015-2021---
Uganda0.41%2015-2016---
Sri Lanka0.41%2015-2020---
Benin0.4%2017-2020---
Comoros0.4%2015-2016---
Kenya0.37%2016-2017---
Zimbabwe0.34%2015---
Honduras0.31%2015-2018---
Djibouti0.29%2015-2019---
Zambia0.2%2015-2016---
Somalia0.2%2016---
Ivory Coast0.16%2016-2021---
Tanzania0.15%2016---
Madagascar0.15%2016-2020---
Togo0.11%2015-2020---
Laos0.09%2021---
Samoa0.08%2016---
Cameroon0.03%2015-2016---
Myanmar0.02%2015-2016---
Guinea Bissau0.02%2015---
Sao Tome and Principe0.02%2017---
Papua New Guinea0.01%2015---
United States -$15,257.60$11,777.40
Japan -$10,591.50$9,653
Germany --$14,240.90
United Kingdom -$10,633.20$9,450.40
France -$16,291.80$14,970.30
Italy --$12,306.20
South Korea -$6,535.10$5,271.20
Spain --$10,283.20
Canada -$11,944.10$9,129.40
Australia --$10,771.40
Netherlands --$9,630.20
Belgium --$15,316.40
Sweden --$13,689.30
Greece --$7,614
Portugal --$8,081.30
Israel --$6,528.30
Austria --$16,096.10
Switzerland --$11,629.90
Denmark --$16,634
Finland --$14,804.50
Norway --$16,885.30
New Zealand $9,660.30$9,823.80$10,698.40
Costa Rica -$3,206.60$2,780.90
Ireland --$11,266
Slovenia --$8,754.70
Luxembourg --$25,171
Iceland --$10,880.30
showing: 140 rows

How much does the US spend on welfare compared to other countries?

The US spends about 18.7% of its GDP on social projects. Nine countries spend more than this percent, including France, which uses 31% of its GDP for social spending.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources