Percentage of welfare in cash paid to the lowest and highest quintile in 2011

The share of cash benefits paid to household in the bottom income exceeds 25% of all cash benefits in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and is highest in Norway and Australia at 40%, compared to around 10% in Mediterranean countries and 5% in Turkey.

By contrast, in these latter countries social transfers often go to richer households, because these benefit payments are often related to a work-history in the formal sector, and often concern pension payments to retired workers. Earnings-related social insurance payments also underlie substantial cash transfers to the top income quintile in Austria, France and Luxembourg.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this chart is that the average OECD country distributes almost exactly 20 per cent of cash benefits to both the top and bottom quintiles of the income distribution.