Government at a Glance 2013

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Government at a Glance 2013 provides readers with a dashboard of key indicators assembled with the goal of contributing to the analysis and international comparison of public sector performance. Indicators on government revenues, expenditures, and employment are provided alongside key output and outcome data in the sectors of education and health. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, new ways in delivering public services and HRM and compensation practices in the public service. While measuring government performance has long been recognized as playing an important role in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the public administration, following the economic crisis and fiscal tightening in many member countries, good indicators are needed more than ever to help governments make informed decisions regarding tough choices and help restore confidence in government institutions.

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General government expenditures

Governments spend money mainly for two purposes: to produce and/or pay for the goods and services delivered to citizens and businesses and to redistribute income. Comparing government expenditures across OECD member countries, as a share of GDP or per capita, provides a measure of the size of the government sector in the economy in terms of financial resources spent. Similarly to government revenues, government expenditures are determined by past and current political decisions that are themselves based on cultural expectations for social redistribution and levels of goods and services to be provided, fiscal constraints, and economic fluctuations and performance. Levels of government expenditures therefore strongly differ across OECD member countries. It is important to note that the size of expenditures is not an indication of government efficiency or productivity.

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