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Social Protection 2016 (reference years 2012-2016)

To aid individuals suffering from common social risks such as old age and unemployment, countries develop social protection systems. 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 2012 to 2016. Data on social expenditure follows 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

Gross and Net ESSPROS​

  • In 2016, Malta’s social protection outlay totalled €1,678.7 million, €70.3 million more than in 2015. Two-thirds of the social protection schemes reported an increase in outlay, with the biggest increase witnessed under Social Security Contributory Benefits (€44.0 million).
  • During the same year, social expenditure amounted to 16.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Malta’s social protection-to-GDP ratio ranked 24th in comparison to the rest of the European Union (EU). France reported the highest share (32.1 per cent) whereas Romania’s 14.4 per cent was the lowest percentage recorded in 2016.
  • Most social benefits were classified under the Old Age (44.4 per cent) and Sickness/Health Care (32.8 per cent) functions.
  • More than half (54.6 per cent) of Malta’s 2016 social protection outlay was made up of cash benefits not subject to means-testing.
  • Social taxes, paid on cash benefit income, amounted to €33.2 million, a €1.8 million drop from 2015.​ 

Social security beneficiaries by locality

  • Overall, 165,815 persons or 36.0 per cent of the Maltese population received at least one type of social security benefit. Women made up nearly 55 per cent of the total beneficiaries.
  • Pensioners totalled 88,479 persons by the end of 2016, 74.3 per cent of which were in receipt of an Old Age type pension.
  • The highest and lowest shares of benefits recipients-to-population ratio were registered in the Southern Harbour (430 persons per 1,000 population) and Northern (318 persons per 1,000 population) districts respectively.
  • At locality level, Ħal Luqa counted the largest proportion of beneficiaries (a direct result of St. Vincent de Paul Residence being situated here), with 533 recipients for every 1,000 residents, while, Swieqi had the smallest share of beneficiaries (196 persons per 1,000 population).​
  • During 2016, old age benefits were the most commonly received type of benefit, with 64,709 recipients, or 141 persons per 1,000 population. Mdina reported the highest ratio with 289 beneficiaries per 1,000 population, while Mtarfa (69 persons per 1,000 population) registered the lowest share of old age benefit recipients.
  • At 20 persons per 1,000 population, disability benefits registered the lowest rate of beneficiaries’ ratio. Xewkija (52 persons per 1,000 population) and Swieqi (6 persons per 1,000 population) recorded the largest and lowest disability beneficiaries-to-population ratio respectively.
  • For every 1,000 persons, there were 104 individuals in receipt of a family benefit in 2016. Mgarr ranked highest with 290 persons per 1,000 population, almost six-and-a-half times more than the lowest, recorded in Tas-Sliema (45 persons per 1,000 population).
  • Sickness beneficiaries totalled 8.5 per cent of the population in Malta and Gozo in 2016. From a locality perspective, such beneficiaries ranged from 16.4 per cent of total residents in Cospicua to 2.3 per cent in Swieqi.
  • Ħal Luqa (106 persons per 1,000 population) and Valletta (148 persons per 1,000 population) counted the highest percentages of survivors and social exclusion beneficiaries respectively.
  • There were 9,992 persons obtaining an unemployment type benefit in 2016, amounting to just over 2 per cent of the total population. Żebbuġ in Gozo (66 persons per 1,000 population) reported the highest share of beneficiaries, while, on the other hand, Ħal Lija recorded the lowest amount of unemployment recipients at 6 persons per 1,000 residents.
  • In 2016, social security recipients averaged €4,823 in benefit income.

Click here​ to access the full document.
Click here​​ to access the infographics.​