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The ART Of Business

Just How Big Is Government, Anyway?

Platitudes and statistics are cheap, especially in a political season.

With all of the rhetoric flying around about entitlements, deficits, and Europe's crisis, it is interesting to see just how big government really is.

Earlier this year, using data from the IMF and OECD, the Economist ran a compelling piece on government's massive expansion over the decades.

In the developed world, the average in 2009 was a staggering 47.7% of all economic activity classified as government spending.

In socialist "France", it was 56.0%. In "free market" America, it was 42.2%, almost the same as Canada's 43.8%.

What is remarkable is that the growth of government has been steady- and uninterrupted- since the late 19th century.

For developing markets like China, India, and Brazil, the numbers are even greater. Estimates there have nearly 70% of all GDP being defined as government spending.

NOTE: I've included the complete chart for developed countries as an attachment below.

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