Social security cost 159 billion euro in 2008

In the Netherlands people entitled to benefits received 159 billion euro in social security payments in 2008. This is the equivalent of about 27 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, which is what all Dutch people earned together. Most social security benefits are paid to old age provision and support for people who are ill.

Spending on social security


Higher spending on sickness and health care

Social security includes all benefits that aim to alleviate the burden on households and individuals. Social security spending in 2008 was over 4 percent higher than in 2007. This is mainly due to the higher spending on sickness and health care. These include benefits based on the basic health care insurance and the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ). Since 1994 the support of people who are ill has risen from 29 to 33 percent of all benefits.

Expenditure on old age such as the General Old Age Pension Act (AOW) and supplementary pensions continue to increase. These benefits also make up a third of total social security. The other main social security benefits are benefits for disablement, for the family (including child benefits) for surviving relatives, for unemployment and for fighting social exclusion (including welfare).

Social security spending per capita in EU, 2006, in purchasing power parities


Huge differences within the EU

Individuals in the Netherlands receive on average almost 10 thousand euro in social security benefits in 2006. Adjusted for differences in purchasing power (purchasing power parities) this brings the Netherlands to the top in Europe. Within the EU only Luxembourg and Sweden paid more in social security. There are huge differences within the EU, where the new member states include quite a few countries where the benefit payments are low. Inhabitants of Bulgaria and Romania received the lowest amounts. Almost half of all benefits went to old age provisions.

Floris Jansen