“Everyone knows that the government of the United States has grown enormously during the past century, but no one knows exactly how much.” - Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan
This dashboard provides an overview of changes to the size and composition of the federal government over time. Understanding how the federal government has evolved is critical to understanding the nature of the American federal system. One reason is related to the decline in public trust. While federal net outlays have increased since 1960 (measured as a percent of GDP), Americans' trust in government has fallen precipitously over the same time period.
To explore the centralization data, click on the icons below. This version of the dashboard includes major datasets on federal outlays, employment share, global comparisons of spending, as well as new research on "power shift" and dynamic de/centralization: