Downward Move of Social Expenditure Ratio in its Fourth Consecutive Year in 1998
Social security expenditure totalled ATS 745 billion in 1998, the 2.8 percent growth of nominal expenditure being 0.7 percent below nominal GDP growth. The social expenditure ratio, i.e., the share of social expenditure in GDP, stood at 28.5 percent in 1998, thus continuing its downward trend for the fourth consecutive year. The trend is expected to remain unchanged in 1999, as the cyclical upswing results in employment growth and a reduction of unemployment. At the same time, the budget consolidation measures (austerity budgets) are reinforcing this development. Measured by its social expenditure ratio, Austria ranks seventh in Europe. The ratios are higher in the Nordic countries as well as France and Germany. With a social expenditure ratio of 28.7 percent, Austria was 0.5 percentage point below the EU average in 1997. However, the structure of social security spending in Austria differs greatly from the European average. Expenditure for old-age pensions and survivor benefits is 3.3 percentage points above the EU average and family benefits exceed the average of the fifteen member states by 1.9 percentage points. The way Austrian social security is financed also differs from the EU average: contributions by public and private employers are 1 percentage point below the average, while employee contributions to social security are 3.6 percentage points above the EU average; the share of tax money flowing into social security exceeds the average by 1.6 percentage points. Old-age benefits (38.2 percent for old-age pensions and 10.3 percent for survivor benefits) account for the largest share of social benefits, followed by health care expenditure (25.8 percent) and family benefits (10.2 percent). Invalidity benefits are the fourth largest expenditure item (8.6 percent), while unemployment benefits account for no more than 5.6 percent of all social benefit payments. The shares of old-age pensions and invalidity benefits increased between 1997 and 1998. Spending rose most strongly (+10.8 percent) in the field of invalidity benefits (including early retirement for reasons of partial invalidity) as well as early retirement after long-term insurance coverage (+4.9 percent) and unemployment benefits (+4.1 percent). Changes in legislation resulted in a steep decline of spending for parental leave (–21.5 percent) and child-birth benefits (–75.4 percent), although family benefit expenditure as a whole increased by 1.6 percent.
Sozialquote 1998 das vierte Jahr in Folge gesunken; Downward Move of Social Expenditure Ratio in its Fourth Consecutive Year in 1998
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