Social expenditure

A large proportion of expenditure on social benefits in Austria is in respect of the old age function. In 2020, around €53.6bn were spent on old age benefits, equating to 42% of total social benefit expenditure (1980: 34%, 1990: 39%, 2000: 40% and 2010: 43%). Expenditure on benefits in the context of the sickness/health care function, at a level of around €31.5bn, was in second place with a share of 25% (1980: 29%, 1990 and 2000: 26%, 2010: 25%). Two-thirds of social expenditure were thus in respect of old age and health care benefits. Significantly lower proportions of expenditure were accounted for by the following functions: 11% unemployment, 9% family/children, 6% disability, 5% survivors as well as 2% housing and social exclusion.

The increase in social expenditure in 2020 is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused higher expenditure for short-term benefits, social benefits in hardship cases, unemployment benefits, one-off payments to the unemployed etc.

69% of social expenditure consisted of cash benefits. Old age, disability and survivors’ benefits are the most important cash benefits, with importance also being accorded to family and unemployment transfers. Benefits in kind (31%) are dominated by out-patient and in-patient health care benefits.

In 2020, €58.5bn was spent on pension benefits, amounting to 15.4% of gross domestic product (GDP). According to the European system of integrated social protection statistics (ESSPROS) social benefits for pension beneficiaries comprise mainly pension benefits from the statutory pension insurance, from public authorities, work accident insurance, maintenance acts (social compensation), from unemployment insurance and occupational pensions. Pension expenditures in the EU are accessible on the Eurostat website.

After deduction of wage tax and social contributions, partly due from cash benefits, 90.3% (2018) of social benefits (cash benefits and benefits in kind) actually reach the beneficiaries. The share went down to 89.3% in 2015 and increased in 2016 to 90.6% due to the tax reform. The share of net social benefits is lowest in old age function (83.6%), while social benefits for families and in the functions housing and social exclusion are granted without deduction (values for 2018). Corresponding results in Europe are available on the Eurostat website.

Please consult our German website for tables and charts containing further information.

Results (overview): Social expenditure

Guglgasse 13, A-1110 Vienna 
Tel.: +43 1 71128-7070 
Fax: +43 1 71128-7728 
Opening hours: Mon - Fri 9.00 am - 4.00 pm