What do countries really spend on social policies? A comparative note

Nowadays there is great interest in international comparisons of social protection systems. In response to this interest, the OECD social expenditure data base (SOCX) has been set up to serve the growing need for indicators of social policy across OECD’s Member countries (OECD, 1996a). SOCX contains information on public social expenditure and such budgetary allocations are often used as a yardstick to assess the ‘‘social effort’’ of a country. But relying just on public expenditure data is likely to give an incomplete picture of the collectively decided social effort across countries. The purpose of this note is to provide a better and more comparable picture of social effort across countries.