January 23, 2019 / 10:05 AM / a year ago

France tops welfare scales, US second with private funds: OECD

PARIS (Reuters) - While France’s attachment to welfare spending is no secret, the United States is not far behind when taking into account private money as well, data from the OECD showed on Wednesday.

At 31 percent of national income, France spent the most taxpayer money last year on things like pensions, healthcare and unemployment benefits, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

(Graphic: Social spending in OECD countries - tmsnrt.rs/2Rtsjd0)

France’s welfare spending was well above the OECD average of 20 percent, and contrasted starkly with Mexico, at the other end of the spectrum with only 7.5 percent.

In countries like the United States, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the private sector plays a big role in providing social benefits and services like pensions or health insurance.

When taking public and private funding together, France’s remains the biggest spender. However, the United States is in second place with total social spending at 30 percent of national income, compared with 19 percent when looking only at public spending.

Though France’s welfare largesse helps keep inequality below the OECD average, its “yellow vest” protests have exposed a deep-rooted belief the system nonetheless is not working for large swathes of population.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain

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