Synthesis 2013 > Social protection systems that have come in for some criticism

Social protection systems that have come in for some criticism

Unsurprisingly, given the increasingly drastic consequences of the economic crisis in Europe and a heightened sense of vulnerability to its consequences, a majority of the Europeans surveyed were critical of their respective systems of social protection: on average 57% consider that their national system does not function properly while 43% consider that it does.

But these averages mask very considerable national differences.

In three of the countries surveyed, a substantial majority of respondents consider that their respective systems work well: in Germany (65%), Sweden (64%) and France (61%). In Germany and France, respondents also feel that their system of social protection is more advanced than those of other European countries (70% of Germans and 62% of French respondents think this). In the case of Swedish respondents, maybe less chauvinist, only 37% felt this way, only a little higher than the percentage that considered their system is ‘neither more nor less advanced’ than those of neighbouring countries, they themselves admittedly benefiting from the ‘Scandinavian model’. These are also the three countries that spend most on social protection as a percentage of GDP (33.8% for France, 30.7% for Germany and 30.4% for Sweden in 2010, according to Eurostat figures).

In contrast, in Poland, Italy and Spain, the large majority of respondents consider that their system does not operate properly: 86% in Poland, 77% in Italy and 70% in Spain. Unsurprisingly, respondents in these countries also believe that their system is less advanced than those of other countries (76% in Italy, 75% in Spain and 71% in Poland), probably for different reasons: affected by budgetary cutbacks and under pressure in Italy and Spain and still at an embryonic stage in Poland (Polish spending on social protection in 2010 represented only 18.9% of GDP according to Eurostat figures, versus 29.4% for the EU27) and Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s reforms are contested (public healthcare, pensions) .

In the United Kingdom, views are more mixed: 55% of British respondents consider that their system does not work properly while 45% believe it does. The British state system has many critics in view of its limitations: lack of investment, bureaucratic nature and long waiting lists for medical care. Also, although the United Kingdom spends more than the European average on health, medical care and invalidity, it spends a significantly smaller percentage on unemployment, which is one of the most acute concerns for Europeans at the moment. Despite this, a relative majority consider their system is more advanced than that of other countries (47% versus 31% who think it less advanced and 22% who consider it neither more nor less advanced).

(2) Puissances d’hier et de demain : L’Etat du Monde 2014, by Bertrand Badie, Dominique Vidal, Philippe Rekacewicz et alia (5 September 2013), p.227

Social protection systems that have come in for some criticism

Recommended Summaries

Is the end of the ubiquitous Welfare State an opportunity for a new model to emerge?

In all the countries surveyed, a majority of respondents want to see the public sector/State take increased responsibility for social protection. Polish [...]

2013 0

There is a need to reform the system to ensure its survival

Although there are different views as to the efficiency of their respective systems, the respondents all agree as to the necessity of reform: 95% consider [...]

2013 0

Countries showing encouraging signs: Germany and Italy

Anxiety is receding in Germany With a budgetary surplus and renewed growth, anxiety levels in Germany have begun to recede. Germans nonetheless remain [...]

2013 0

An exacerbated sense of vulnerability

As a consequence of the lasting crisis and increased anxieties, Europeans feel increasingly vulnerable. With regard to the 17 risks that could affect [...]

2013 0

Risk aversion is even more pronounced than in 2012

In the present conditions, risk is increasingly perceived as a danger by the Europeans already surveyed in 2012: in the case of the French, Germans, Spanish, [...]

2013 0

Countries facing a downward spiral: Spain, Poland and France

The situation in Spain, already very worrying in the light of the 2012 survey results, has deteriorated further. The level of anxiety in Spain is now [...]

2013 0

Back to top