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 Contact Information:

Lara Friggieri Cordina
Communication and Dissemination Unit​
2599 7210

Social Protection 2020 (Reference years 2014-2018)

Countries introduce social protection systems with the purpose of counteracting many diverse social risks, such as unemployment, old age and social exclusion, being encountered by their residents.  These systems consist of various policies and programs aimed at different groups of people, each providing protection against a single risk or need.

This publication provides a broad analysis of Malta’s social protection system, focusing on data from 2014 to 2018. Data on social expenditure adheres to the ESSPROS Manual composed by Eurostat and is categorised according to ESSPROS function and social protection scheme. The former provides the main theme of the publication with a chapter devoted to each of the eight ESSPROS functions; (1) sickness, (2) disability, (3) old age, (4) survivors, (5) family/children, (6) unemployment, (7) housing and (8) social exclusion.

The final chapter of the publication presents an overview of the geographic location of social benefits recipients in the Maltese Islands, with data split up to local council level. Various maps have been inserted throughout the publication to provide a visual perspective of beneficiaries situated in Malta and Gozo.​

Key facts


  • Malta’s social outlay amounted to €1,883.2 million in 2018, reflecting a 3.9 per cent rise from 2017.
  • The main schemes that contributed to the aforementioned increase were Social Security Contributory Benefits (€29.3 million) and Hospitals and Other Health Care Facilities (€18.7 million). Overall, eleven of Malta’s eighteen active social protection schemes reported a rise in expenditure during 2018.
  • Old Age (€822.0 million) and Sickness/Health Care (€652.8 million) benefits accounted for 78.3 per cent of the total spending.
  • In 2017, €33.1 million of €1,811.8 million was recouped in social taxes. Hence, net outlay amounted to €1,778.7 million, which represented a €104.5 million increase over 2016.
  • The largest share (69.9 per cent) of taxation was reported under the Social Security Contributory Benefits scheme.
  • Pensioners totalled 91,948 in 2018, with 56.9 per cent being male.
  • Since 2007, the year Pension Beneficiaries data started to be collected by Eurostat, a 25.1 per cent rise in pensioners has been noted.
  • Old Age pensions reported the largest number of recipients (68,297 in 2018). 

Social Protection in the EU

  • EU countries spent 26.8 per cent of their combined GDP to cover social schemes in 2017.
  • Social expenditure-to-GDP ratios ranged from 31.7 per cent in France to 14.1 per cent in Romania. Malta (15.9 per cent) ranked in 23rd place among the EU Member States.
  • Non-means tested cash benefits totalled 57.8 per cent of the EU’s social outlay.
  • The highest and lowest percentages of the EU’s social spending were classified under the Old Age (40.5 per cent) and Housing (1.9 per cent) functions respectively.
  • More than a quarter of the EU’s population (259 persons per 1,000 population) were obtaining a pension in 2017.
  • Lithuania reported the largest share of pensioners in 2017 (33.3 per cent of its population) while Cyprus recorded the lowest ratio (18.6 per cent). Locally, pensioners accounted for 19.2 per cent of the population, the second lowest in the EU.

Social security beneficiaries by locality
  • There were 166,183 persons in Malta and Gozo, 33.7 per cent of the total population, who received at least one type of social security benefit in 2018.
  • Women amounted to 55.6 per cent of the total beneficiaries.
  • The highest share of recipients were residing in the Southern Harbour district (413 persons per 1,000 population). Conversely, the lowest ratio of 293 persons per 1,000 population was registered in both the Northern Harbour and Northern districts.
  • At locality level, Floriana (472 persons per 1,000 population) witnessed the largest proportion of social benefit recipients, while, Swieqi contained the smallest share (174 persons per 1,000 population).
  • Old age benefits were the most commonly received, with 67,224 recipients, or 136 persons per 1,000 population. Number of recipients ranged from 28.4 per cent of Mdina residents to 7.4 per cent of persons residing in St. Paul’s Bay.
  • Unemployment benefits registered the lowest percentage of beneficiaries, standing at 1.5 per cent of the total population. Marsa (47 persons per 1,000 population) and Mdina (4 persons per 1,000 population) recorded the largest and lowest unemployment beneficiaries-to-population ratio respectively.
  • There were 49,729 individuals in receipt of a family benefit in 2018, 10.1 per cent of the total population. Xgħajra reported the highest ratio as 17.1 per cent if its residents obtained a family type benefit. This was in direct contrast to Tas-Sliema that recorded the lowest proportion of family recipients (4.0 per cent of its population).
  • In 2018, sickness beneficiaries totalled 7.9 per cent of the population in Malta and Gozo. Beneficiaries ranged from 16.8 per cent of total residents in Cospicua to 2.2 per cent in Swieqi.
  • Cospicua also reported the highest share of social exclusion benefit recipients, with 14.4 per cent of persons residing in the locality in receipt of such a benefit. This was 2.8 times higher than the national average (5.1 per cent).
  • There were 34 persons for every 1,000 individuals who were in receipt of a survivors benefit in 2018, with Hal Luqa (89 persons per 1,000 population) recording the highest share of beneficiaries. Conversely, the lowest ratio (14 persons per 1,000 population) was reported in Swieqi.
  • There were 9,269 persons, or 1.9 per cent of the population, obtaining a disability benefit in 2018. Xewkija (50 persons per 1,000 population) reported the highest share of beneficiaries, decuple the lowest amount reported in Swieqi (5 persons per 1,000 population).
  • In 2018, beneficiaries living on the Maltese Islands averaged €5,552 in benefit income.​

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Social Protection 2020 
(Reference years 2014-2018)
Click below to access the full ​Infographics ​(reference year 2018)
Malta's Social Protection Outlay Health Care Statistics Social Security Benefits​