When newly recorded according to the statistical method established by the EU, expenditures for social programs in Austria amounted to ATS 694 billion or 29.5 percent of GDP in 1995. The extent of social expenditure in Austria is similar to that in other European countries with comparable social and economic structures. Social spending in Austria has increased by 2.5 percent of GDP since 1980, while the EU average for social outlays has risen by 4.25 percent over the same period. Following a stable phase in the 1980s, the social expenditures/GDP ratio has increased markedly during the early 1990s as a result of a significant expansion in the number and scope of social services being offered. However, 1995 witnessed a stabilization in Austria's social expenditures/GDP ratio despite the weak economic climate and an increase in the level of unemployment. This positive development is likely to continue in light of the measures that are being implemented within the framework of the government's program of budgetary consolidation.
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