This paper provides a brief picture of recent trends in social expenditures followed by discussion of some of the major social policy directions evident over recent years, including examples from particular OECD countries.
Unemployment remains a persistent problem for many who are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The average rate is around 7 per cent for the OECD region as a whole, with unemployment rates above 10 per cent for a number of European countries. Government budgets have come under increasing strain from the increased income support sought by people of working age unable to find employment. At the same time, there has been considerable growth in other social security payments to people of working age, such as disability pensions, sickness benefits, lone parent pensions and early retirement pensions.