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How big is the government?
Chapter 4 focuses on the question “how big should the government be. However, a prior question often is overlooked: How big is the government? In other words, do statistics show that the government is getting larger or smaller?
Key questions are:
How do we accurately measure the changing size of government over time?
What are the relative sizes of the federal, state, and local governments?
Which components of government spending have grown?
How does the size of government in the US compare with the size of government in other countries?
Write a 4-6 page paper addressing these questions.
Key data is available at:
For national economic accounts see the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Remember that government expenditure in GDP accounts excludes transfers.
For information on the federal budget and historical series, see the US Congressional Budget Office at:
For the current administration’s viewpoint on the federal budget see:
For individual state and local budgets go to:
For data on state and local government, including payroll and finance, see the US Census Bureau at:
For comparisons across countries see the World Bank:
Discussion of the data is available at:
Article by Brookings Institution researcher and author of The True Size of Government (1999) See also