Social security contributions accounted for about a quarter of tax revenue in OECD countries in 2000, unchanged from the 1995 level, but wide differences remain between countries because of differing definitions and practices, the latest edition of Revenue Statistics shows.
Denmark takes 4.6% of its taxes in the form of social security contributions, the equivalent of 2.2% of GDP, and at the other end of the scale the Czech Republic relies on social security for 43.8% of its tax revenue, or 17.3% of GDP.European countries generally consider that most public programmes offering income protection are a form of insurance to be financed by social security contributions, and their social safety nets are well-developed, so they are mostly in the upper end of the spending scale.English-speaking countries (and Korea) finance a much greater part of their social benefits from general government revenues – in fact Australia and New Zealand do not levy social security contributions at all. And in general the ratio of social security contributions to GDP is lower in OECD countries with a relatively low GDP, except for the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.The share-out in contributions between employers and employees also varies widely, with a fifty-fifty split in Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Luxembourg and Japan, and elsewhere employers generally paying the lion’s share, except in Denmark and the Netherlands where it is employees who pay most.
OECD, 2002, Revenue Statistics 1965-2001, 2002 Edition, Paris 2002.© OECD Observer No. 234, October 2002