Social security is under attack from opposite camps. On the one hand it is accused of aggravating the world economic crisis by reducing saving, cutting investment, aggravating inflation, augmenting unemployment and undermining incentives to work; on the other hand, it is blamed for failing to solve the problems of poverty, for discriminating against women, for not treating equally those with similar needs and for distorting social priorities. While some press for a fundamental reorientation of social security policies, others argue that the whole system should be dismantled as it is no longer needed in societies which have reached there present state of affluence. There is no longer clear consensus favouring further developments.
In 1990 in Europe, social security payments as a percentage of GDP equalled 21% in France, 18% in Italy and 15% in Germany, as opposed to 12% in Japan and 11% in the USA. In 1993 many experts considered that unemployment would have to increase, or wages and social benefits would have to fall, before Europe could become productive enough to increase growth. European workers were considered to have become too expensive. In Germany, for example, social spending had risen from 26.5% of gross wages in 1970 to an expected 40% in 1994. In France in 1993, 44% of every franc collected in taxes was absorbed by social welfare programmes.