France is world champion in social spending

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(Paris) – France´s social spending is the highest in the developed world relative to the size of its economy, an OECD study found, as the government weighs how to respond to “yellow vest” protests.

Expenditure on healthcare, pensions and other social services was the equivalent of 31.2 percent of GDP last year, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based inter-governmental research institution.

Outlays have risen sharply since 1990, when they represented just under 25 percent of GDP, and are nearly triple the level of roughly 12 percent of GDP in 1960.

That trend is broadly in line with other developed countries, reflecting the development of more comprehensive welfare states and higher pension spending as more people live longer.

But France´s outlays are well above the average of 20.1 percent of GDP for the 36 OECD member countries, with pensions making up a large chunk of the cash benefits paid out every month.

In neighbouring Germany, social spending was just 25 percent of GDP last year, while in the US it made up just 19 percent.

And when taking all public spending into account, such as police and defence, France leads Europe with government outlays the equivalent of 56.5 percent of GDP in 2017, according to the most recent data available.

The government is aiming to cut this by three percentage points by the end of Macron´s term in 2022, which would mean finding 65-70 billion euros of savings.