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Kuwait ranks among world’s most generous in social spending

The country allocated KD 13.88 billion (52.83% of its KD 26.27 billion budget) to social welfare in fiscal year 2023/2024, accounting for 28.3% of its gross domestic product.

  • Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Norway allocated 25.9% to 28.3% for social spending, mirroring Kuwait’s commitment. These numbers affirm Kuwait’s place among the world’s leading social welfare spenders.

  • Kuwait spent KD 959 million on secondary education and KD 736 million on higher education during the fiscal year 2023/2024, totaling KD 1.695 billion.

  • In FY 2016/2017, social spending surged to KD 8.317 billion, marking a 69% growth from FY 2023/2024. This accounted for 46.96% of Kuwait’s total expenditure, totaling KD 17.708 billion at that time.

Data compiled by the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development in Kuwait, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), reveals that Kuwait ranks among the world’s most generous nations in terms of social spending.

For the fiscal year 2023/2024, Kuwait allocated an impressive KD 13.88 billion to social welfare programs, representing 52.83% of its total budget of KD 26.27 billion.

Monitoring social spending

The Supreme Council for Planning and Development, in partnership with ESCWA, employed seven dimensions and indicators to monitor social spending: education, health and nutrition, housing and community facilities, labor market interventions and job creation programs, social protection programs, arts, culture and sports, and environmental protection.

Social spending accounted for 28.3% of Kuwait’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the fiscal year 2023/2024, a remarkable figure compared to countries with high levels of social spending as a percentage of GDP.

For instance, Denmark’s social spending also reached 28.3%, matching Kuwait’s level, while Germany allocated 25.9%, Sweden 25.5%, and Norway 25.3%. These figures solidify Kuwait’s position among the world’s top spenders on social welfare.

Social spending distribution

According to the distribution of social spending across the indicators, housing and community facilities received KD 3.299 billion, while hospital services for inpatients were allocated KD 2.724 billion. The government spent KD 2.293 billion on fuel (oil and gas) subsidies and over a billion on pre-primary and primary education.

The data further reveals that Kuwait spent KD 959 million on secondary education and KD 736 million on higher education during the fiscal year 2023/2024, totaling KD 1.695 billion. Additionally, KD 570 million was allocated to all labor market and employment indicators, while cultural facilities and events, as well as the encouragement of individuals and organizations in the fields of arts and culture, cost KD 520 million. Education affairs received KD 514 million, and social protection was allocated KD 338 million.

Environmental protection

In the fiscal year 2023/2024, Kuwait spent KD 222 million on sewage and sanitation facilities, and KD 170 million on the water supply network, reservoirs, and water supply quality. Healthcare expenses for the state amounted to KD 130 million, while KD 124 million was allocated for medicines, medical products, equipment, and supplies, and KD 610,000 for public health services.

Education support

Adult education received KD 960,000, housing support KD 890,000, family and child allowances KD 130,000, community development KD 100,000, and support for vulnerable groups KD 70,000.

Regarding the distribution of social spending by beneficiaries, institutional development and administrative support accounted for 28.39% (KD 3.943 billion) of total social spending, while 20.96% (KD 2.911 billion) was allocated to diverse population groups, and 19.68% (KD 2.733 billion) to households or families.

Children received 14.14% (KD 1.964 billion), while spending on youth and adults amounted to 10.11% of total social spending, equivalent to KD 1.404 billion. The remaining 6.67% (KD 0.926 billion) was allocated to society as a whole.

Significant growth in social spending

During the fiscal year 2016/2017, social spending reached KD 8.317 billion, indicating a growth of approximately 69% compared to 2023/2024. However, it constituted 46.96% of Kuwait’s total expenditure at that time, which amounted to KD 17.708 billion.

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