OT: Entitlements [was Re: Python usage numbers]

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Sat Feb 18 04:16:39 EST 2012

On 2/18/2012 2:28 AM, Ian Kelly wrote:

> Here's a neat table: government spending as a percentage of GDP, by
> country.
> http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2008/03/government-spending-as-percentage-of.html

The table is for "national government spending". That means spending by 
the national government. The US has a lot of spending by state, county, 
city, school, and special districts that is not included. Total 
government spending in the US is about 40% of measured GDP. I *suspect* 
that the US has a higher percentage of non-national government spending 
than most other countries. For instance, government education spending 
is about 6% of GDP and that is mostly non-national here but, I believe, 
more national in some other countries.

There are also issues with the denominator. In the US, if someone works 
at home without pay other than from a spouse, the value of the work is 
*not* included in GDP. If the same person goes to work elsewhere and 
hires someone to do the the same work around the home, that same work 
*is* counted. So the movement of house-spouses into the paid workforce 
has artificially inflated US GDP relative to, say, 50 years ago.

There are also issues of measuring and including the unofficial, 
off-government books, 'underground' economy. That is relatively larger 
in many countries than in the US. I have the strong impression that the 
US IRS is much more diligent about ferreting out taxable income than the 
equivalent in many other countries.

Terry Jan Reedy

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