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Social expenditure is the provision by public (and private) institutions of benefits to, and financial contributions targeted at, households and individuals in order to provide support during circumstances which adversely affect their welfare, provided that the provision of the benefits and financial contributions constitutes neither a direct payment for a particular good or service nor an individual contract or transfer.

Such benefits can be cash transfers, or can be the direct (“in-kind”) provision of goods and services.

Thus, social expenditure can be provided by both public and private institutions, but transfers between households are not within the scope of social expenditure. Social expenditure is “unrequited”: it does not include “market transactions”, i.e. payments in return for the simultaneous provision of services of equivalent value.

Source Publication:
An Interpretative Guide to the OECD Social Expenditure Database (SOCX), OECD, page 10.

Statistical Theme: Social and welfare statistics

Created on Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Last updated on Thursday, March 13, 2003