Social assistance 

Updated: 20.12.2016 - Next update: 20.12.2017

Recipients of income support

Income support is a form of social assistance granted as a last resort. This means that recipients of income support are at risk of social exclusion. As an indicator, receipt of income support is closely linked to unemployment. Indirectly it reveals that the primary forms of support are insufficient.

The trend in the number of recipients of income support was similar to the economic cycles that started in the early 1990s, but took place with a lag of a few years. In the 21st century, when the general unemployment rate stayed at a higher level than in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the gap became narrower. At the same time, the number of long-term recipients of income support increased. Consequently, income support expenditure grew in relation to the number of households receiving this form of assistance. The number of beneficiary households rose sharply as a result of the economic recession in 2009 and higher unemployment rates. In 2010, unemployment ceased to grow and the number of recipients of income support also stopped growing. In 2010–2012, the number of income support beneficiaries remained unchanged.

In 2012, rate increases were made to principal and last-resort financial assistance that are provided in the form of unemployment security, housing allowance and income support. The increases have not made a big difference to income support payments because of their aggregate impact.

In 2013–2014, the number of income support recipients increased by about three per cent in both years and ended up being at the same level as a decade earlier. Thus 7.2 per cent of the population received income support in 2014. Income support expenditure rose in 2013 by three per cent in real terms, while in 2014 it remained unchanged. Consequently, the level of income support expenditure was the same as in the 1990s' recession. At the same time, in average euro terms, beneficiary households' income support declined by 2.5 per cent in the wake of nearly consistent rise throughout the 21st century.

National Institute for Health and Welfare

Description of indicator

The indicator shows social assistance recipients as a percentage of the entire population during a calendar year. Population data refers to the situation at the year-end. According to these statistics, all social assistance recipients in a household are calculated separately, which means that children are included in the figures.