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Compare Federal Spending of the United States to other Countries

How does the United States compare to countries of similar size and gross domestic product? Explore the chart, which shows the total spending of the United States compared to 169 other countries listed in the CIA World Factbook. You can compare spending (in dollars) and spending as a percent of gross domestic product. Find a country of interest and see for yourself. To ensure an accurate comparison, 2017 spending data is used in this section, not current fiscal year data.

Please note that the countries depicted in this chart have different forms of government, and these differences may impact the scope of finances reported by each country.

Country Comparison

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Data Sources and Methodology

The visualization was created using the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) as the data source for federal government spending of the United States. Gross domestic product (GDP) figures come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Gross domestic product data for countries other than the United States comes from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook Database (WEOD).

In researching potential data sources for information on the spending of other governments for the country comparison module, we chose the CIA World Factbook because it provides the best comparison for the following reasons:

  • the number of countries with 2017 data,
  • relative consistency with the level of government measured (central government only as a standard),
  • all figures expressed in US dollars

Countries with figures before 2017 were excluded from the country comparison data set. Although most countries in the data set feature spending from central government sources only, some countries included state/provincial/local spending. As a result, this visualization should not be considered an absolute comparison of the spending of central governments for all countries.

To finish the data set for Country Comparison, gross domestic product figures from BEA and the IMF WEOD were combined with spending figures from the CIA World Factbook data set, excluding countries that did not have data available from both sources.