The European Union (EU) Member States spent over 352,75 billion euros on family benefits in 2016 . This amount represented 2.4% of the EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 9% of the total spent on social protection benefits, according to the latest comparable data for all the 28 Member States published by the European Statistical Office.
As explained by Eurostat, social protection benefits are transfers from public or private bodies to households, in cash or in kind, intended to relieve them of the financial burden of several risks and needs. The numbers published by Eurostat show that, over the last few years, the share of social protection expenditure on family benefits in the whole EU remained stable (it was also 9% in 2008).
However, a more detailed and country-by-country observation shows once again that there are great differences depending on the member state. These differences prove that, in terms of social rights, the European Union is still very far from being a homogeneous block, capable of providing a similar quality of life and protection to all its inhabitants.
Luxembourg tops the list
According to the data published by Eurostat, in terms of support to families the most generous member state would be Luxembourg, who allocates more than 3,000 euros a year per inhabitant for these purposes. At the opposite extreme are Romania and Bulgaria, with less than 120 euros a year per inhabitant.
In the Top 5 of the list are, after Luxembourg, Denmark (1,676 euros), Sweden (almost touching the 1,400 euros), Germany (1,233 euros) and Finland (1,219 euros).
Once again there is a gap between northern and southern Europe: among the remaining 23 countries, only Austria exceeds the barrier of 1,000 euros per inhabitant per year.
Source: Eurostat (p)=provisional
In terms of GDP
If the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) destined for family benefits is taken as a reference, the result is that the same countries occupy the Top 5, although in a different order.
Denmark (3.4%) leads the ranking, followed by Luxembourg (3.3%), Germany (3.2%), Finland (3.1%) and Sweden (3.0%). On the contrary, at the end of the list are Greece and Malta, with only 1.0% of GDP.
As a share of total social protection expenditure
The share of social protection expenditure dedicated to family benefits varied significantly also between different EU Member States.
It accounted for more than 15% of total social benefits in Luxembourg, followed by Estonia and Poland (both 13%), and Hungary (12%). In Finland it is 9.74%. The lowest shares were registered in Greece and the Netherlands (both 4%), followed by Spain and Portugal (both with 5%), according to the figures published by Eurostat.