What percentage of government expenditures are local?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Chris Dixon 8 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #102564

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    Fascinating statistic: in the EU (an open government advocate tells me) 70% of all government expenditures are at the local level, only 30% at the national level. This seems very skewed to me. And Europeans are known for strong central governments, I thought. Does anyone know the corresponding figures in the U.S.?

  • #102582

    Chris Dixon
    Participant

    If you look at the BEA’s NIPA tables 3.21 and 3.22 line 36 (“Total expenditures”), you’ll find that in 2008 states spent $1.4T (52%) and localities spent $1.3T (48%).

    It might be possible that the EU breaks out the way you heard. You can have centralized decision making with decentralized disbursement. Local governments–such a towns and departments in France–are merely carrying out directives from the nation’s capital, but they are still technically spending the money on local implementation. In America, we tolerate much more fragmented administration and discordant decision-making in order to have “home rule.” I suppose that comes from being a nation that was born of a colonial model.

  • #102580

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    Thanks, Chris. I had no idea where to start researching. Google turns
    up a number of sites that are confusing and inconsistent (and even the
    BEA site is confusing) But according to BEA at:

    http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TableView.asp?SelectedTable=87&ViewSeries=NO&Java=no&Request3Place=N&3Place=N&FromView=YES&Freq=Year&FirstYear=2008&LastYear=2008&3Place=N&Update=Update&JavaBox=no#Mid

    during the same year you mentioned, 2008, the Federal government spent
    3.1176 trillion dollars.

    So from this tiny sample (and other years shown on the same sie), it
    looks like the US Federal government spends a third more than the
    states and cities.

  • #102578

    Chris Dixon
    Participant

    Oops. You’re right, I forgot to add the federal figures in there. The federal portion $3.1T would be 53% of the US governmental total of $5.8T. I can’t figure where to get European statistics for national and sub-national government spending levels. Maybe the OECD publishes something like that.

  • #102576

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    I’m citing a researcher in a blog I’m writing, concerning the EU numbers. But I’ll mention the BEA figures as a contrast. Thanks for your help. I’ll post the URL of the blog here later this week when it goes up.

  • #102574

    Chris Dixon
    Participant

    Great. Of course, I was just thinking, that if we compare local spending ($1.3T) to combined state and federal ($4.5T) local ends up being only 22% of the $5.8T total. I guess it depends on if the EU definition of “local” includes only what we would call city/county government. If this is the case, then the EU’s administrative overhead for what we would consider “federal” and “state” level government is very, very light. Curious.

  • #102572

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    You’re right–the disparity between US and EU gets bigger and bigger as you shave the data closer. I don’t want to share parts of my article yet because my contact is reviewing it for accuracy, but I can say that he chose to examine city/municipal expenditures because he finds the scope of their work more consistent than what different national governments do. I think American states differ a lot too, and probably what they do could be considered more like national expenditures than municipal expenditures.

  • #102570

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    I have to disavow this whole discussion (although it was fascinating and I learned some useful things) because I misunderstood my contact and found out later that 70% refers to something pretty different, not EU government expenditures. He was talking about public data. Anyway, I still have a good blog about the open data movement, which I will point to when it’s published.

  • #102568

    Chris Dixon
    Participant

    No problem. It gave me a chance to review some figures I haven’t visited in a while.

  • #102566

    Andy Oram
    Participant

    The blog is up; I’ll also post this as a new discussion: http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/06/european-union-starts-project.html

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