Comparing statistics on expenditure
Important differences when comparing expenditure
When comparing social spending in the Nordic countries with that of other EU member states, it is important to consider the differences in how social cash benefits are taxed. In the Nordic countries, these benefits are often taxed, while in other EU countries, certain portions of these benefits may be exempt from taxation. Additionally, some countries provide tax relief for families with children, but this is not categorized as social spending.
There are also variations in the definition of social and education sectors between the Nordic countries and other EU countries. For instance, the age at which children start school differs, making it challenging to compare spending on early childhood education and care.
The OECD and EUROSTAT are currently developing models for calculating net social spending after taxes.
It is worth noting that there are significant differences between the OECD calculations of healthcare spending and the calculations in the European system of integrated social protection statistics (ESSPROS) system.
The ESSPROS system provides the terminology used for collecting social protection expenditure data in all Nordic countries. Efforts are made in ESSPROS to obtain the most accurate data on social services expenditure for the elderly and disabled.
However, in the OECD's A System of Health Accounts, these figures are categorized as health expenditure. Additionally, ESSPROS calculates net expenditure, while the OECD includes gross expenditure, which encompasses investments and user charges.
Currently, all Nordic countries rely on national accounts when making calculations related to social expenditure.
It is important to mention that Norway and Iceland began using national accounts as the basis for these calculations in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Consequently, any social expenditure data before 2001 (Norway) and 2006 (Iceland) cannot be accurately compared to data from later years.