Online Cover Front

Social Protection 2022 (Reference years 2016-2020)

Date Published: 15th July 2022

Countries have 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. Specifically in 2020, the Maltese Government implemented various support measures to aid businesses and individuals who were significantly and negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This publication provides a broad analysis of Malta’s social protection system, focusing on data from 2016 to 2020. 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 are included throughout the publication as a visual representation of beneficiaries’ residency in Malta and Gozo.

Salient Points of Publication:


  • By the end of 2020, Malta’s social outlay amounted to €2,622.0 million, equivalent to 20.1 per cent of the country’s GDP.
  • The abovementioned social outlay represented a €582.8 million, or 28.6 per cent, rise from 2019.
  • Employment support measures introduced by the Government to address the negative financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the significant jump in social expenditure. In 2020, such measures amounted to €410.2 million, 96.5 per cent of which covered the basic wages of employees under the Wage Supplement scheme. Furthermore, social expenditure under the Hospitals and Other Health Care Facilities scheme rose by €80.8 million.
  • In addition to the COVID-19 measures, a €52.9 million increase was reported under the Social Security Contributory Benefits scheme. Overall, twelve of Malta’s nineteen active social protection schemes reported a rise in expenditure during 2020.
  • Benefits recorded under the Old Age (€933.4 million), Sickness/Health Care (€828.1 million) and Unemployment (€438.0 million) functions accounted for 83.9 per cent of the total spending.
  • In 2019, €22.9 million of €2,039.2 million was recouped in social taxes resulting in a total net outlay of €2,016.3 million. This represented a €149.1 million increase in comparison to 2018.
  •  The largest share (52.3 per cent) of taxation was reported under the Social Security Contributory Benefits scheme.
  • There were 97,070 persons in a receipt of a pension in 2020, 56.4 per cent being males.
  • Since the inaugural Pension Beneficiaries data collection by Eurostat in 2007, persons in receipt of a pension have increased by 32.0 per cent.
  • Old Age pensions reported the largest number of recipients, totalling 73,044 by the end of 2020.


Social Protection in the EU

  • In 2019, social spending in the EU27 accounted for 26.8 per cent of the Member States’ combined GDP.
  • France (31.2 per cent) and Ireland (13.0 per cent) reported the highest and lowest social protection-to-GDP proportions, respectively. In comparison, Malta’s ratio amounted to 14.5 per cent, ranking# the country just above Ireland.
  • Non-means tested cash benefits totalled 59.0 per cent of the EU’s social outlay.
  • The highest share of the EU’s social spending went towards Old Age benefits (40.2 per cent), more than thirty times higher than the lowest share, being benefits reported under the Housing function (1.3 per cent).
  • More than a quarter of the EU’s population (262 persons per 1,000 population) were obtaining a pension in 2019, a marginal decrease from 2018 (267 persons per 1,000 population).
  • The largest rate of pensioners was in Lithuania (33.4 per cent of its population) while Malta recorded the lowest ratio (18.2 per cent). Furthermore, Malta also reported the biggest decline in pensioners, with 2.1 per cent less persons being in receipt of a pension in 2019.


Social security beneficiaries by locality

  • There were 170,259 persons in Malta and Gozo, 33.0 per cent of the total population, that received at least one type of social security benefit in 2020.
  • Women amounted to 55.8 per cent of the total beneficiaries.
  • Among the six districts, recipient shares ranged from 405 persons per 1,000 population in Southern Harbour district to 277 persons per 1,000 population registered in the Northern district.
  • At locality level, Floriana (448 persons per 1,000 population) witnessed the largest proportion of social benefit recipients, while, Is-Swieqi contained the smallest share (164 persons per 1,000 population).
  • Old age benefits reported the highest number of recipients, amounting to 71,386, or 138 persons per 1,000 population. Beneficiaries ranged from 29.9 per cent of residents in L-Imdina to 7.4 per cent of persons residing in Is-Swieqi.
  • At 1.6 per cent of Malta’s population, unemployment benefits registered the lowest percentage of beneficiaries. Bormla (42 persons per 1,000 population) and San Lawrenz (4 persons per 1,000 population) recorded the largest and lowest beneficiaries-to-population ratio, respectively.
  • There were 48,702 individuals in receipt of a family benefit in 2020, equivalent to 9.4 per cent of the total population. Ix-Xgħajra reported the highest ratio as 15.0 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 (3.6 per cent of its population).
  • In 2020, sickness beneficiaries totalled 6.9 per cent of the population in Malta and Gozo. Beneficiaries ranged from 15.8 per cent of total residents in Bormla to 1.5 per cent in Is-Swieqi.
  • Bormla also reported the highest share of social exclusion benefit recipients, with 13.2 per cent of its residents in receipt of these types of benefits. This was close to three times higher than the national average (4.6 per cent) and over 26 times more than the lowest ratio witnessed in Is-Swieqi (0.5 per cent).
  • There were 33 persons for every 1,000 individuals who were in receipt of a survivors benefit during 2020, with Ħal Luqa (78 persons per 1,000 population) recording the highest share of beneficiaries. In contrast, the lowest reported ratio was found in Is-Swieqi (13 persons per 1,000 population).
  • There were 9,448 persons, or 1.8 per cent of the population, obtaining a disability benefit in 2020. Ix-Xewkija (48 persons per 1,000 population) reported the highest share of beneficiaries, with the lowest amount reported in Is-Swieqi (5 persons per 1,000 population).
  • In 2020, beneficiaries living on the Maltese Islands averaged €6,032 in benefit income.
Health Care Statistics
Social Protection
Social Protection Outlay
Kalkulatur tal-Inflazzjoni Kalendarju tal-Istqarrijiet tal-Aħbarijiet Talbiet għat-Tagħrif Mistoqsijiet dwar il-Kodiċi tan-NACE
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