Government expenditure (% of GDP)

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About this data

Government expenditure (% of GDP)
The sum of all the money spent by the government on goods and services, as a percentage of GDP. It includes the government's interest expense.
International Monetary Fund (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
June 12, 2024
Next expected update
June 2025
Date range
% of GDP

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The Public Finances in Modern History Database documents two-hundred years of the history of budget deficits and government debts. The current version covers 151 countries over the period 1800–2022, subject to data availability. These data were assembled from a wide array of historical sources, which are documented in the Appendix of Data Sources. The initial database, which covered 55 countries, was analyzed in “A Modern History of Fiscal Prudence and Profligacy”, Journal of Monetary Economics, 2015, Vol. 76, pp. 55–70, by Paolo Mauro, Rafael Romeu, Ariel Binder, and Asad Zaman.

A distinguishing feature of the database is the presence of primary balance data, which is the difference between a government's revenues and its non-interest expenditures, alongside the corresponding government debt data. The primary balance is the most accurate reflection of government fiscal policy decisions. We invite you to explore these data through the interactive graphs below and take in a glimpse of the history of deficits and debts around the world.

Retrieved on
June 12, 2024
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
International Monetary Fund (2023). Public Finances in Modern History

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All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

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How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Government expenditure (% of GDP)”, part of the following publication: Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser (2016) - “Government Spending”. Data adapted from International Monetary Fund. Retrieved from [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

International Monetary Fund (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

International Monetary Fund (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data. “Government expenditure (% of GDP)” [dataset]. International Monetary Fund, “Public Finances in Modern History” [original data]. Retrieved July 14, 2024 from