Government at a Glance 2015

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Government at a Glance 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, health and justice. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, public procurement and the implementation of employment and remuneration reforms since 2009. 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 revenues

Revenues raised by governments are used to finance the provision of goods and services and carry out a redistributive role. The main two sources of government revenues are taxes and social contributions. The amount of revenues raised by governments is related to the economic fluctuations associated to the business cycle as well as historical and current policy choices. For example, governments could choose to provide pensions directly, or allow the provision of retirement benefits by private providers. Their decision will affect how much government revenue they need to raise and by which instrument (e.g. taxes or social contributions). While for a certain period of time additional revenue requirements could be financed by acquiring debt, in the long run, revenues and expenditures should be balanced to guarantee the sustainability of public finances.

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