Pensions dominate – strongest growth in transport


Pensions and other social benefit programs are by far the chief expenditure item in general government. However, the strongest growth in government expenditure can be found in road and rail.

In 2018, expenditure on social protection totaled NOK 675 billion, according to updated figures for general government revenue and expenditure, In the statistics this function of government includes pensions and other benefits, mainly through the National Insurance Scheme, and social services in central and local government. Social protection constituted nearly 40 per cent of total government expenditure.

Figure 1. Government expenditure by function. 2018

Local government Central government
Other functions 59.3 159.8
Culture 33.6 24.8
Environment protection and housing 50.6 8.2
Defence and public order and safety 6.5 94.5
Road and railway transport 52.9 67.2
Education 133.8 57.1
Health 79.1 204.6
Social protection 171.3 503.3

Increased expenditure on road and rail

Government functions in road and rail transport comprise expenditures disbursed for maintenance and investment in the road and rail network. Operation of public transportation is also included. In 2018 expenditure on road and rail is estimated at NOK 120 billion. This equals an annual growth of 7.4 per cent since 2013, when the total expenditure amounted to NOK 84 billion. In comparison, total government expenditure growth was 4.9 per cent in the same period.

Expenditure in defense, fire and rescue services, police, law courts, and prisons has also grown more rapidly than the period average. The growth is influenced by the procurement of fighter jets for the military defense, which is entered into the statistics when the jets are delivered, and not when their costs are settled.

Expenditure on health and education, a significant function in both central and local government, has increased approximately at the same rate as total government expenditure. On the other hand, social protection has grown slower than the average, with annual increase of 4.5 per cent.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Annual growth in government expenditure. 2013-2018

Revision of the statistics

Statistics Norway has carried out a revision of statistics based on the definition in the national accounts. One important revision is the moving of units between the sectors that the national accounts divide the economy into. As opposed to the previous release, some revenue and expenditure items in central and local government are corrected back in time. More on the revision can be found here.