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What is National Expenditure?

National Expenditure refers to the total amount of spending by a government within a given fiscal year. It encompasses everything from infrastructure projects and defense to education and healthcare. Understanding how our government allocates funds can empower us as citizens. What does your nation prioritize, and how does it impact you? Join the conversation and discover more.
Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

National expenditure is the term used to describe the total spending output in a particular country’s economy. This amount is used in creating a country’s budget and assessing its overall economic health. A country’s national expenditure will also be relative to the total amount of income a country receives or earns.

There are many different types of smaller expenditures calculated to determine a country’s total national expenditure. A few of the different types are amounts spent on health care, infrastructure, education, technology, environment, military and crime. In the United States, before arriving at the overall national expenditure data for these and other expenses, information on more local expenditures is collected from each state.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

While there are different types of expenditures, each one is expected to benefit the citizens of a country. These benefits may include those currently experienced by a country’s citizens, as well as those expected to be experienced in the future. For instance, a country’s national expenditure on education may currently benefit citizens by providing access to quality public education, but monies spent on educational research and future reform programs may not benefit citizens until a later date, which is sometimes many years in the future.

Depending on the country, national public expenditure information may or may not be presented for citizen review. In the United States, government expenditure information is made available to the public. This information is routinely reported through news media and is made available in print as well as digital formats, which can be reviewed at any time. Reported information is generally organized according to the different types of expenditures to offer a clear indication of where public tax expenditures, which originate with American taxpayers, are being distributed.

By keeping track of national expenditure data, countries can identify areas of weakness or overspending in an attempt to reduce expenditures or redirect monies spent to another area of spending. A close monitoring of this data also helps countries predict what future spending costs will be and attempt to prepare accordingly. In countries where national data relating to federal spending is made available to the public, debate often ensues over spending levels and categories of spending. Economists, politicians and a country’s citizens often disagree over how much output is distributed to certain sectors and how much should be spent in the future.

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