It’s hard to measure the price of a global pandemic. If we were to try, it might be some great concoction of sky-high unemployment rates, ruined investment portfolios, businesses who may never open their doors again, and of course, the loss of human life that can never be recovered.
While we can’t truly determine what the coronavirus has cost us as human beings, we can look at what it’s costing countries around the world. Using data from the U.S. News and World Report, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and United Nations, GOBankingRates found the 49 countries that are spending the most on the coronavirus outbreak. As of early May, these countries all had at least 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and were taking fiscal action to try to stem the damage.
The study is ranked from countries spending the least on coronavirus to countries spending the most — not in dollar figures, but as a percentage of their gross domestic product. It might be assumed that the countries spending the most are the ones that have been hardest hit by the crisis. And to an extent, this is true.
Germany, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. are all in the top 10 spenders, and all have over 150,000 cases of the virus. Another country that’s been impacted hard is France, with nearly 170,000 cases; however, the French don’t appear to be addressing the crisis in the same way. France falls in the middle of the list at No. 25, only spending $2,610 per capita on coronavirus relief. But perhaps more disappointing is Italy. With more than 200,000 cases of the virus, the small nation falls at No. 47 on the list, only spending $462 per capita.
In comparison, Germany — the biggest spender — has shelled out nearly $12,000 per capita in relief money, which comes out to a quarter of its GDP. And while the U.S. slots in at No. 8, spending $7,600 per capita, it should be noted that it has by far the most cases of COVID-19. With nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases, the United States has, without a doubt, been hit hardest by the coronavirus. No other country even comes near the half a million mark.
So, which countries are spending the most on this global pandemic? And, for residents of the hardest-hit United States, will it be enough to overcome the tide of unemployment that’s swept the nation?
Last updated: May 19, 2020
Confirmed cases: 23,471
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.018%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.00%
Spending per capita: $96
While over 23,000 Mexicans have been infected with the coronavirus, the government seems to be slow in opening its pocketbook. What little it has spent has gone toward medical centers and equipment, advanced payments to the elderly, public housing credit and loans to small businesses who are continuing to pay their workers.
Confirmed cases: 5,278
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.125%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.14%
Spending per capita: $380
For a country as small as Kuwait, 5,000 cases is a big number. Some key relief measures have included postponing Social Security contributions for private sector companies, drawing back on government fees, providing ample unemployment to nationals and long-term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.
Confirmed cases: 211,938
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.350%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.34%
Spending per capita: $462
In early March, the Italian government was widely publicized for mandating a countrywide quarantine. Despite this drastic measure, it still hasn’t spent nearly as much as other nations on this list. The $28 billion in relief funding has strengthened Italy’s healthcare system, preserved jobs, deferred payments for struggling businesses and supported people who were recently unemployed.
Confirmed cases: 9,485
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.009%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.36%
Spending per capita: $42
The Philippines, in particular, is struggling hard with this virus, perhaps due to its small landmass and lack of advanced medical equipment. President Rodrigo Duerte recently stated that his country “cannot afford a second or third wave.” So far, the island nation has been working toward more testing kits and health equipment, financial aid programs for low-income families and support for the tourism and agriculture industries.
Confirmed cases: 8,235
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.077%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.43%
Spending per capita: $114
The DR has spent $1.23 billion on subsidizing vulnerable households, strengthening its food program and sending monthly payments to families in need. It’s also created an Employee Solidarity Assistance Fund (FASE) to support employees laid off due to COVID-19.
Republic of Korea
Confirmed cases: 10,801
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.021%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.47%
Spending per capita: $464
The Republic of Korea — more commonly known as South Korea — has allocated 1.47% of its GDP to coronavirus relief. While this is not a lot compared to other nations, it’s gone toward a wide variety of programs, including business loans, household relief payments and expansion of unemployment benefits. Additionally, a top priority has been securing ways to treat and prevent the virus.
United Arab Emirates
Confirmed cases: 14,730
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.151%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.74%
Spending per capita: $737
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the UAE has implemented a fiscal stimulus program, suspended government fees, provided water and electricity subsidies and extended support to many businesses.
Confirmed cases: 21,772
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.446%
Spending as share of GDP: 1.93%
Spending per capita: $1,509
With 0.45% of the population infected with the coronavirus, Ireland has the third-highest cases-to-population ratio. It’s behind only Qatar (0.6%) and Spain (0.5%). Ireland has put new programs in place to help minimize the impact, including a wage subsidy scheme, increased sick pay, expanded unemployment benefits and hospital and business support.
Confirmed cases: 127,659
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.153%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.00%
Spending per capita: $185
Turkey has bolstered a number of programs for in-need families and businesses; including unemployment insurance, pensions and cash assistance. It’s also deferred certain government fees and layoffs, while providing relief to vulnerable industries and hiring 32,000 additional medical staff.
Confirmed cases: 20,941
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.010%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.38%
Spending per capita: $35
Pakistan has sent direct financial relief to a number of groups, including daily wage workers, low-income families, affected businesses and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Confirmed cases: 40,968
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.240%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.41%
Spending per capita: $1,287
The Netherlands seems to have funneled most of its $22 billion coronavirus fund directly into companies. A strategy employed, no doubt, to avoid a large spike in unemployment. This relief money compensates up to 90% of labor costs for affected businesses, helps keep startups and self-employed people afloat and allows for tax deferments.
Confirmed cases: 6,813
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.007%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.44%
Spending per capita: $61
In contrast to the Netherlands, Egypt appears to be pumping its relief budget largely into individuals. This means an increase in pensions, social programs and a support initiative for gig workers in the most impacted industries. The country has also deferred many taxes and is supplementing funding for the medical industry.
Confirmed cases: 10,143
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.006%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.53%
Spending per capita: $42
Bangladesh has funded a new Ministry of Health COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan; it’s also supplying food and shelter to those in need, as well as increasing unemployment benefits and subsidizing health insurance for at-risk workers.
Confirmed cases: 83,965
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.006%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.70%
Spending per capita: $256
While China comes in at No. 5 in the amount of money it has spent, it’s ranked overall at an abysmal No. 36 considering how high its GDP is. This may come as a surprise, considering China is where the coronavirus originated, but where China lacked in spending it made up for in swiftness of action — with many reports saying the government quickly enforced a mass quarantine, physically “rounding up” people and shutting them inside their residences.
China’s $366 billion COVID-19 spending has largely gone toward disease prevention and medical equipment, as well as unemployment insurance and tax relief.
Confirmed cases: 5,053
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.014%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.70%
Spending per capita: $87
Morocco has spent a little over $3 billion to upgrade hospitals, support at-risk businesses and households and provide a pension fund for temporarily unemployed workers. Debt payments and taxes were also postponed until June 30.
Confirmed cases: 11,587
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.004%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.79%
Spending per capita: $108
Indonesia’s fiscal efforts to battle the coronavirus have included bolstering its healthcare sector with more tests and equipment and expanding existing programs for food aid, cash transfers and unemployment insurance.
Confirmed cases: 7,668
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.015%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.80%
Spending per capita: $184
Colombia has injected direct cash relief into the coffee and tourist sectors, two of its biggest industries. It has also delayed some payments for poorer households and increased taxes on public sector workers to help fund the virus response.
Confirmed cases: 145,268
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.100%
Spending as share of GDP: 2.80%
Spending per capita: $318
Although Russia has nearly as many cases as Germany, it’s putting much less cash into fighting the virus. However, it looks as if the Russians most affected by the coronavirus are being taken care of. The nation has increased compensation to medical staff, as well as bolstered sick leave and “maternity capital” — money for having children under 3 years old. In addition, it is paying quarantined and unemployed individuals benefits at least equal to the federal minimum wage, and providing guaranteed loans to affected businesses.
Confirmed cases: 7,884
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.147%
Spending as share of GDP: 3.06%
Spending per capita: $2,468
Though spending less than many countries, Norway is checking all the boxes for immediate relief. It has increased income for workers both temporarily and permanently laid off, strengthened the healthcare sector, expanded sick leave, childcare and unemployment benefits, as well as offered guaranteed grants and loans to businesses.
Confirmed cases: 13,512
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.070%
Spending as share of GDP: 3.50%
Spending per capita: $433
In addition to suspending many tax and bill payments, Romania has sent additional funds to the healthcare industry. It’s also partially covering wages for parents who need to be at home, self-employed workers and at-risk workers.
Confirmed cases: 28,656
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.084%
Spending as share of GDP: 4.10%
Spending per capita: $942
Saudi Arabia has suspended government tax payments, modified its budget to prioritize health and relief spending and expanded wage benefits in its unemployment insurance fund.
Confirmed cases: 25,524
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.250%
Spending as share of GDP: 4.15%
Spending per capita: $978
In addition to increased health spending, Portugal has allotted 1 billion euros per month in financial support for those temporarily furloughed by their employer. It’s also guaranteed credit lines for many businesses, and tax and Social Security contribution deferrals for companies and employees.
Confirmed cases: 20,643
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.109%
Spending as share of GDP: 5.62%
Spending per capita: $884
This South American country has spent $16.75 billion in coronavirus relief. The money has gone toward its healthcare industry, unemployment benefits, additional support to vulnerable workers and small business loans.
Confirmed cases: 6,353
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.020%
Spending as share of GDP: 5.91%
Spending per capita: $663
Malaysia has taken a vast number of measures to try to soften the impact of COVID-19. These include temporary tax and Social Security relief, increased health spending, cash transfers to low-income households and loans for affected businesses.
Confirmed cases: 169,583
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.260%
Spending as share of GDP: 6.12%
Spending per capita: $2,610
France and Italy are the only two nations outside of the top 10 whose case numbers have cracked 150,000. But while its spending is lower than similarly affected countries, France is still implementing various programs to battle the virus. It has streamlined and boosted health insurance for sick people and their caregivers, increased spending for medical equipment, deferred tax and Social Security payments, provided loans for small businesses and wage support for affected workers.
Confirmed cases: 16,246
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.191%
Spending as share of GDP: 6.15%
Spending per capita: $2,677
Israel’s relief budget has paid for a one-time grant for struggling families, tax and other payment deferrals and grants and loans for affected businesses.
Confirmed cases: 105,222
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.050%
Spending as share of GDP: 6.75%
Spending per capita: $598
Brazil has a higher case count than many countries and is spending a bit more accordingly. So far the government has shelled out $126 billion for temporary income support to vulnerable households, workers’ compensation and increased health spending.
Confirmed cases: 47,372
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.146%
Spending as share of GDP: 7.00%
Spending per capita: $478
The Peruvian government’s response to the virus has mainly included direct payments to low-income households, income tax extension and higher health spending.
Confirmed cases: 7,197
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.169%
Spending as share of GDP: 7.57%
Spending per capita: $1,159
This tiny Central American country has spent nearly 8% of its GDP to stop the coronavirus’ devastation. Actions include major healthcare spending, the Panama Solidarity Plan — which pays affected workers and small businesses — and tax and other payment deferrals.
Confirmed cases: 46,437
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.003%
Spending as share of GDP: 8.00%
Spending per capita: $159
As the second-most populous country in the world, India’s case count is fairly low, meaning it may be doing something right. So far it has beefed up its healthcare budget, covered cash transfers and support to low-income households and eased the tax burden across many sectors.
Confirmed cases: 61,814
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.165%
Spending as share of GDP: 8.05%
Spending per capita: $3,688
Much of Canada’s $138 billion relief budget has been poured into its healthcare system, which has boosted testing, medical supplies and vaccine development. Canada has also sent cash payments to households and firms, increased tax credits and childcare assistance and deferred many taxes. In addition, it has focused directly on supporting its indigenous communities.
Confirmed cases: 5,327
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.096%
Spending as share of GDP: 8.22%
Spending per capita: $4,112
Finland has responded swiftly to the pandemic, already spending $4,112 per person despite its low case count. This money has contributed to healthcare and COVID-19 research, business grants, social assistance, unemployment insurance and international funds for fighting the coronavirus.
Confirmed cases: 9,868
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.171%
Spending as share of GDP: 8.43%
Spending per capita: $5,198
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Denmark has largely focused on healthcare spending, tax payment deferrals and support for workers and businesses.
Confirmed cases: 6,823
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.027%
Spending as share of GDP: 8.79%
Spending per capita: $4,999
When the pandemic struck, Australia was just extinguishing the last of its bushfires, which had devastated the country since September 2019. It has since spent $126 billion on measures to support households and businesses, instill free childcare, give guaranteed loans to banks and strengthen the healthcare system.
Confirmed cases: 29,981
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.349%
Spending as share of GDP: 9.47%
Spending per capita: $7,774
Switzerland has taken action to guarantee loans to small businesses, compensate losses for canceled events, provide partial unemployment compensation and support self-employed individuals, as well as parents in need of childcare.
Confirmed cases: 15,621
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.174%
Spending as share of GDP: 10.71%
Spending per capita: $5,446
While the primary focus has been on COVID-19 research, Austria has also authorized deferrals for tax, VAT and Social Security payments, as well as debt payments. The country is compensating families and small businesses for losses, and Austrian households have been able to delay their rent payments until the end of 2020.
Confirmed cases: 16,191
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.572%
Spending as share of GDP: 10.76%
Spending per capita: $7,274
Qatar has the highest known cases-to-population ratio, with almost 0.6% of its population infected by the coronavirus. Maybe this is why it has spent a good 10.8% of its GDP battling the virus. Qatar’s fiscal response includes shoring up small businesses and hard-hit sectors, exemptions on utility payments and full salary payments to affected migrant workers.
Confirmed cases: 22,721
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.226%
Spending as share of GDP: 10.82%
Spending per capita: $5,994
Sweden has funneled over $60 billion into short-term wage subsidies, sick leave, small business loans and generous unemployment benefits. It has also contributed to the World Health Organization and increased funding for media, culture, sports and education sectors.
Confirmed cases: 14,006
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.037%
Spending as share of GDP: 10.88%
Spending per capita: $1,682
To help cushion its economy, Poland has secured wage subsidies for affected workers and companies, which also cover social insurance contributions. It’s also providing loans to both small and large businesses to keep them afloat. In addition, the country has ramped up its healthcare spending and started a fund to combat the negative impacts of the virus.
Confirmed cases: 9,557
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.109%
Spending as share of GDP: 11.23%
Spending per capita: $648
The first country to crack the top 10, Serbia has increased medical staff wages by 10% and sent a cash transfer to every citizen over 18. Employees in large public sector companies, as well as those currently unemployed, are being paid a percentage of the minimum wage, and loans are guaranteed for small businesses.
Confirmed cases: 50,267
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.436%
Spending as share of GDP: 11.97%
Spending per capita: $5,632
With 0.44% of its citizens having been infected by the coronavirus, Belgium has one of the higher cases-to-population ratios. To try to slow the spread, it has increased healthcare expenditures. Belgium is also giving temporary support to unemployed individuals and postponing tax and Social Security payments for companies.
Confirmed cases: 1,177,784
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.358%
Spending as share of GDP: 12.17%
Spending per capita: $7,600
Although the U.S. didn’t start seeing cases until after countries like Iran and Italy, since then the virus has been spreading at a rapid rate, infecting almost a million more people than the next-closest nation. And, although the U.S. has a large population, it’s still less than half the size of both China and India, who have exponentially smaller infection rates.
To combat it, the divided American Congress came together to pass a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill in March, which sent cash infusions of $1,200 to every eligible tax-paying citizen. It also increased unemployment insurance, created a fund for small business loans and aided struggling hospitals. In addition, portions of the bill have been directed to further testing and research to try to stop the virus.
Confirmed cases: 18,778
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.324%
Spending as share of GDP: 12.37%
Spending per capita: $7,758
So far, Singapore has spent about $800 million to try to contain the outbreak. The country has directed $5.7 billion to support households, mainly through direct cash payments, and $35.3 billion to businesses. It has also set aside a loan capital of $20 billion.
Confirmed cases: 191,832
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.284%
Spending as share of GDP: 13.94%
Spending per capita: $5,894
As one of the most affected countries, the U.K. has spent $398 billion since the outbreak started. The money has gone toward the NHS — its national healthcare system, free to all citizens — affected businesses, self-employed workers and furloughed workers. It has a $1 billion fund for firms that are championing grants and convertible loans.
Confirmed cases: 98,647
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.119%
Spending as share of GDP: 14.00%
Spending per capita: $767
One of the earliest affected countries, Iran has spent about 7% of its GDP deferring tax payments for its citizens. The remainder of its relief funding has gone toward subsidized loans for affected businesses and households, the unemployment insurance fund, direct cash payments to vulnerable households and extra funding for the health sector.
Confirmed cases: 218,011
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.466%
Spending as share of GDP: 15.43%
Spending per capita: $4,686
With the second-highest case count and nearly 0.5% of its population infected by the coronavirus, Spain is one of the top spenders in battling this pandemic. The country has directed $219 billion to the Ministry of Health, COVID-19 research, unemployment benefits and additional support for affected households.
Confirmed cases: 7,799
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.073%
Spending as share of GDP: 16.38%
Spending per capita: $3,757
Although less than 0.1% of Czechia’s population has been infected, it is still one of the top three spenders against the coronavirus. This country, also known as the Czech Republic, has promised 80% wage compensation for quarantined and unemployed workers. It has also guaranteed credit lines to suffering businesses, lump sums to self-employed workers and bank loan deferments.
Confirmed cases: 14,877
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.012%
Spending as share of GDP: 22.15%
Spending per capita: $8,681
Japan has acted quickly to stop the spread of the virus, spending over $1 trillion despite having less than 15,000 known cases. It set in place an Emergency Economic Package Against COVID-19 that provides cash handouts to affected individuals and firms, concessional loans from financial institutions and deferments on tax and Social Security contributions. Japan is also a major contributor to international aid funds.
Confirmed cases: 165,914
Confirmed cases as a percent of population: 0.199%
Spending as share of GDP: 25.06%
Spending per capita: $11,846
In an overwhelming response, Germany has spent more than a quarter of its total GDP since the outbreak of COVID-19. This money — nearly $1 trillion — has paid for better healthcare equipment and hospital capacity, basic income support, childcare benefits, small business grants and interest-free tax deferrals until the end of the year.
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Methodology: In order to find the countries spending the most on coronavirus, GoBankingRates first looked at Johns Hopkins data to identify the 53 countries that had at least 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 5, 2020. GOBankingRates then created estimates for each country’s total spending on fiscal measures to address the COVID-19 crisis and its effects by analyzing the combined cost of all fiscal policies designed to respond to the virus outlined by the International Monetary Fund’s policy tracker. Where the IMF’s data was incomplete, U.S. News and World Report spending estimates were used. Estimates were rounded to the nearest million and do not include government spending on the territorial, regional, state, or equivalent level. XE was used to convert estimates given in other units to USD. Four countries (Belarus, Ecuador, South Africa and Ukraine) were excluded from the final ranking due to a lack of data on government spending. GOBankingRates also calculated each nation’s per capita spending and spending as a percent of 2018 GDP by dividing total spending on fiscal policies by 2019 total population (from United Nations data) and 2018 GDP (from the World Bank), respectively. The 49 countries for which all data was available were then ranked from 1 to 49 with No. 1 being the country spending the most on the COVID-19 crisis in proportion to their GDP and No. 49 being the country spending the least. Additional information on the key fiscal measures taken by each country, according to the IMF, was provided. All data was collected on and up to date as of May 5-7, 2020.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These 49 Countries Are Spending the Most on Coronavirus