Nobody, in 1900, speculating on the future of government, could have imagined the astonishing growth and scope of government in the 20th century. Nor would they have imagined that, for many people, this gigantic government would seem the very essence of efficiency, compassion, and modernity. But the reason that government has got so big is not, as many claim, the weight of armaments and wars. Instead the money goes for health care, education, pensions, and welfare programs. You can see how it all happened in the United States in the charts below.
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Detailed table of spending data sources here.
Federal spending data begins in 1792.
State and local spending data begins in 1890.
State and local spending data for individual states begins in 1957.
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> State and Local Finances FY12
Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .