Social protection: France’s champion of Europe

France spends a third of its GDP on social protection or 34.1%. Health and old age account for 80% of the benefits paid, 91% paid by public authorities and 9% by the private sector. DREES takes stock of it and compares it to that of our European neighbors.

The Directorate for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) has just scrutinized the social protection accounts, which have given rise to an interesting international comparison, putting it back in its European context (1). At the same time, on the eve of the French Mutuality Congress in Montpellier, this report led to a comment by the President of the Republic on this “crazy cash” that the Hexagon is devoting to its social aid. Beyond any partisan spirit on the subject, the panorama presented by the DREES makes it possible to return to some figures that are important.

One-third of the national wealth

In 2016, the last year selected for the analysis, our country spent 759.1 billion euros on social spending, a third of our national wealth. Of this amount, 714.5 billion gave rise to benefits, the rest being composed of management fees, financial expenses and capital account uses. In the same year, social protection receipts amounted to 758.7 billion euros or 34% of GDP. On this set of expenditure, the two main risks, old-age survival (325.3 billion euros) and health (249.9 billion euros in 2016), represent respectively 46% and 35% of the total of this expenditure, ie 26% of GDP. 648.8 billion euros, ie 91% of the benefits are paid by the general government (including 515.9 billion by the Secu), the private sector providing 9% of its services, or 41.5 billion euros financial and non-financial corporations (of which $ 28.2 billion by mutual and provident societies) and $ 24.2 billion through non-profit institutions serving households (persons with disabilities, social assistance childhood, people experiencing exclusion). Of the resources of this social protection (758.7 billion), the main part comes from contributions (461.3 billion), to which are added the taxes and duties affected (184 billion), the public contributions (93.7 billion ) and various resources ($ 19.6 billion). Finally, the balance of accounts is gradually becoming the rule: from -11.6% in 2012, the balance of social protection accounts returned to -0.4% in 2016, proof that the situation has improved with the resumption of employment.

France in the lead

In terms of Europe, France ranks first in terms of social benefits in GDP, ahead of Denmark (31.1%), Finland (31.1%) and Belgium (29.1%). %), far ahead of Germany (27.9%) and far ahead of Romania (14.3%) which is at the bottom of the scale. The EU average of 15 is 28.3%. “Paying pensions alone accounts for 12.5% of GDP in the EU-28,” notes the DREES report. They make up the largest share of total benefits (46%). For its part, the risk of illness and health care is the second largest expense item. It represents on average 8.2% of GDP and 30% of total EU benefits to 28. Health is thus a major item in the social protection accounts: “in the EU15, in 2015, the risk of illness and health care contributes 37% to the total growth of social benefits, compared to 22% in 2010, “underlines in this register the direction of studies. The health-care risk is thus the second largest item of social protection expenditure in the European Union, with 8.2% of the GDP of the states concerned, compared with 9.1% for France.

Various evolution of the dependent remains

The report also underlines the low share of household expenses in health expenditure: with an average of 6.8% in the EU in 2015, they are lower than in Luxembourg (10.6%), (12.3%) or in Germany (12.5%) and much lower than Spain (24.2%), Portugal (27.7%) or Greece (35.5%). The global economic and stock market crisis of 2008 marked a turning point on this issue. “The reduction of the public effort after 2008 has resulted in greater financial participation by insured persons in the cost of health goods and services, an increase in user fees or other forms of participation (franchises), or even through a reduction in the coverage rate of the population, “says Drees. Paradoxically, countries where the share of direct financing of health expenditure by households was already among the lowest, such as Germany and France, experienced the largest declines in the rest between 2009 and 2015.