Social policies and data

Social Benefit Recipients Database (SOCR)


Social spending accounts for about half of all government expenditures, and cash benefits account for the majority of social spending. For households, accessible government transfers are central to cope with economic crises, with the demands of dynamic labour markets, and with changes in personal and family circumstances. The scope and coverage of social protection has received renewed attention following the global Social Protection Floor initiative and governments’ efforts to implement and monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The OECD’s Social Benefit Recipients Database (SOCR) presents, for the first time, comparable information on the number of people receiving cash benefits. SOCR includes data for the main income replacement programmes in the unemployment, social assistance, disability and old-age branches. It currently covers eight years (2007-2016) for most OECD and EU countries.

Trends in recipient numbers show aggregates by social protection branch. In some countries, recipients stocks for some relevant programmes are missing, meaning that aggregates cannot be reported. However, country notes report recipients stocks detailed at programme level for all countries. In addition to aggregate trends, country-specific files report information about recipients at programme level for all countries.


aggregated data by social protection branch

[Download trend data (.xlsx)]


This release includes the number of recipients (usually annual averages) of the main income replacement programmes from 2007 to 2016. There are two ways to access the data :

  • SOCR country-specific files below containing annual recipient stocks of selected programmes [xlsx] and qualitative information/metadata [pdf]:

OECD countries

 Non-OECD EU countries

methodological and analytical documents  

The SOCR database relies on administrative data provided by governments and has been compiled as part of an ambitious joint project initiated by OECD and the European Commission in 2010. Along with existing information on social spending and on the adequacy of benefit levels, the SOCR data shed light on the effectiveness and efficiency of social protection policies. 

Pseudo-coverage rates of unemployment benefitS  


Pseudo-coverage is the total number of recipients of a given programme or group of programmes relative to the number individuals in some group of interest, which usually is the one a priori targeted by the programme(s).

In the chart, the numerator is the number of beneficiaries of earnings-related unemployment benefits (unemployment insurance) and of non-contributory benefits (unemployment assistance) for jobseekers who have exhausted their insurance benefit or were not entitled to it to start with.

The denominator is the number of unemployed individuals (over 15 years old) according to the ILO definition. It is important to note that these coverage rates are not shares since the numerator and the denominator may only partially overlap; for this reason, measured pseudo-coverage rates can exceed 100%.

Readers are strongly encouraged to carefully read the methodological notes provided along with coverage figures in the excel file.


related databases

RELATED studies and results


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These documents were produced with the financial assistance of the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-2020). The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD member countries or of the European Union.

* The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

**Footnote by Turkey:  The information in this document with reference to « Cyprus » relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.
**Footnote by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union: The Republic of Cyprus is recognized by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Chapter 5 of the Employment Outlook 2018 [publication webpage] presents latest trends in unemployment benefits coverage and analyses the main drivers behind changes in coverage.


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