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Government at a Glance 2009

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The actions and policies of government touch our daily lives in countless ways. Quantifying and measuring government actions can help leaders make better decisions, and can help to hold government accountable to its citizens. 

Government at a Glance is a new, biennial publication of the OECD providing over 30 indicators describing government performance. It compares the political and institutional frameworks of government across OECD countries, as well as government revenues, expenditures and employment. It also includes indicators describing government policies and practices in integrity, e-government and open government, and introduces several composite indexes summarising key aspects of public management practices in human resource management, budgeting and regulatory management. For each figure, the book provides a dynamic link (StatLink) which directs the user to a web page where the corresponding data are available in Excel® format.

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General government expenditure by type

Comparisons across countries of the proportion of benefits provided in cash by governments to eligible parties can illustrate differences in economic and social policies. Particularly within redistribution programmes (such as unemployment and health assistance), governments can provide benefits in cash (e.g. pensions) or in kind (e.g. food stamps or housing vouchers). OECD member countries spend more money on in-kind goods and services than cash transfers. Cash transfers generally have lower transaction costs, larger multiplier effects in the economy and provide individuals with more choice. However, governments may prefer in-kind transfers because it may be hard to identify eligible individuals, they want to control the delivery process, and/or they want to ensure that individuals receive adequate food, medical services or housing.

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