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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
  • 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 States0%$15,257.60$11,777.40
Japan0%$10,591.50$9,653
Germany0%$14,240.90
United Kingdom0%$10,633.20$9,450.40
France0%$16,291.80$14,970.30
Italy0%$12,306.20
South Korea0%$6,535.10$5,271.20
Spain0%$10,283.20
Canada0%$11,944.10$9,129.40
Australia0%$10,771.40
Netherlands0%$9,630.20
Belgium0%$15,316.40
Sweden0%$13,689.30
Greece0%$7,614
Portugal0%$8,081.30
Israel0%$6,528.30
Austria0%$16,096.10
Switzerland0%$11,629.90
Denmark0%$16,634
Finland0%$14,804.50
Norway0%$16,885.30
New Zealand0%$9,660.30$9,823.80$10,698.40
Costa Rica0%$3,206.60$2,780.90
Ireland0%$11,266
Slovenia0%$8,754.70
Luxembourg0%$25,171
Iceland0%$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