EUROPE - Expenditure on pensions accounted for 12.7% of the EU's GDP in 1999, according to the latest Eurostat figures.
Old-age pensions constituted 75% of the value of all pensions - the remainder comprising disability pensions (9.9%), survivors' pensions (9,7%) and other types of pension (5.1%).
Pensions in the EU made up almost half of all expenditure on social protection, and were the biggest expense item in all member states except Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. In 1999, pensions constituted more than 60% of expenditure in Italy, and between 50% and 52% in Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Portugal.
This share has varied very little since 1993, when it accounted for 12.9% of GDP, according to the research.
In 1999 expenditure was lowest in Spain (9.9%) and Portugal (10.1%), while the highest shares were in Austria (14.0%) and Italy (15.1%).
Old-age pensions were particularly burdensome in the UK (80.1% of total pensions), Germany (79.2%) and France (79.1%). They accounted for a lower share in Ireland (46.2%), Austria (58.4%) and Finland (59.2%). The share of disability pensions in total pension expenditure varied from 6.2% in France to 22.0% in the Netherlands, while that of survivors' pensions was practically zero in Denmark, but 21.8% in Ireland.
In the EU, the share of old-age pensions in the value of all pensions increased steadily from 72.8% in 1990 to 75.3% in 1999, which corresponded to an annual growth rate in old-age pensions of 3.4% in real terms. The average hides different increases between the Member States: real annual growth was 8.4% in Portugal and 5.3% in Luxembourg, but only 1.4% in Ireland and 2.1% in the Netherlands.
Eurostat is the Luxembourg-based Statistical Office of the European Communities.
By Madhu Kalia
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