A study of expenditures of the United States and its political units will show that everywhere there has been an increase. After a period of war, or some other emergency expenditure, there may be periods in which decreases can be found, but they never get back to the pre-emergency basis. A somewhat detailed study of the expenditures of the United States, and its political divisions, will be of interest to American students of Public Finance. In most of the following tables the items are given for which expenditures have been made, so that comparisons may be made between increases in the expenditures for particular items as well as between the total expenditures. Emergency expenditures show a greater effect upon the figures for the Federal government than upon those for the other political divisions. The following are expenditures of the Federal government:2

1 These illustrations of the increase of public expenditures are taken from a treatment of this subject by F. S. Nitti. An extract of his work may be found in Bullock's Readings in Public Finance, p. 32.

2 A detailed account of the growth of expenditures in the United States may be found in an article by C. J. Bullock, in the Political Science Quarterly, xviii, p. 97. The expenditures for each year may be secured from tables given in Pewey's Financial History of the United States,

1 In currency value; gold would be about $6.80.

2 Lowest since Civil War.

From this table it will be seen that there has been a gradual increase in the Federal expenditures, with a sudden increase at the time of the Civil War and the Great War. After the Civil War there was a gradual decrease, and we may expect the same tendency for the next few-years. It is unlikely that the amount will ever be as small as it was in 1913 or 1914. The following table shows the increase in Federal expenditures for particular items from 1903 to 1913:1

Some of the items in this table may be a little out of proportion because of some particular undertaking in one of these years. For example, a part of the expenditure for

1 The statistical compilations in this chapter, unless otherwise indicated, have been made from the following reports of the Bureau of the Census: Wealth, Debt, and Taxation; Financial Statistics of States; and Financial Statistics of Cities. The figures may not be entirely accurate, yet they are sufficiently so to give general comparisons, the purpose for which they are intended.

Year

Total

Per Capita

Year

Total

Per Capita

1850

$ 40,947,000

$1.76

1915

$1,047,835,000

$10.44

1860

63,200,000

2.01

1916

1,048,225,000

10.36

1870

293,656,000

7.601

1917

2,405,932,000

25.04

1886

242,483,000

4.22 2

1918

9,312,169,000

89.16

Expenditures of the National Government

 

1913

1903

General Government..............

$ 61,784,000

$ 59,924,000

Protection to Person and Property..

264,671,000

175,875,000

Health and Sanitation............................

5,701,000

2,533,000

Highways..............................................

42,652,000

19,590,000

Charities, Hospitals, and Corrections

182,313,000

146,918,000

Education..............................................

17,243,000

10,341,000

Recreation............................................

924,000

505,000

Miscellaneous.......................................

13,373,000

12,850,000

Apportionments..................................

10,108,000

5,647,000

Public Service Enterprises.................

264,107,000

137,695,000

Interest...............................................

25,256,000

28,556,000

Outlays 1 ...........................................

64,380,000

16,564,000

1 Outlays are such expenditures as those for public buildings, etc.

public service enterprises in 1913 was for the Panama Canal. In general, however, the table presents the usual trend in the growth of Federal expenditures in a period when war had very little influence. In some items the percentage of increase has been small, while in others it has been much larger. Some reasons for this will be noted later. In only one item - nterest - was there a decrease. Because of the indebtedness which the Great War brought into existence, this is, of course, larger now than ever before.

Expenditures of States and Cities. - A comparison of the expenditures of states and cities will show the same tendency to increase as is seen in those of the Federal government. The following table shows this for recent years:

Year

States Total

Per Capita

Year

Cities Over 30,000 Total

Per Capita

1915 1916 1917 1918

$490,708,000 505,399,000 513,063,000 561,000,000

$4.99 5.05 5.04 5.42

1915 1916 1917 1918

$1,057,127,000 1,043,594,000 1,081,866,000 1,144,630,000

$33.92 32.34 32.53 33.35

This table shows for the four years indicated that there has been a gradual increase in both state and city expenditures. The following gives more in detail the increases in state expenditures from 1903 to 1913 and 1918:

Expenditures Of States (000 Omitted)

 

1918

1913

1903

 

Total

Per Capita

Total

Per

Capita

Total

Per Capita

 

$51,395

$O. 59

$40,496

$0.42

$25,897

$0.32

Protection to Person and

           

Property..............

33,218

0.32

24,926

0.26

6,804

0.08

Health and Sanitation....

12,249

0.12

6,387

0.07

5,327

0.07

Highways............................

38,829

0.38

16,884

0.17

4,680

0.06

Charities..............................

118,084

1.14

87,306

0.90

52,515

0.65

Schools.................................

163,183

1.58

132,575

1.37

64,643

0.80

Recreation............................

1,248

0.01

1,983

0.02

1,563

0.02

It is seen by these figures that state expenses have been on the increase, and at a faster rate than the population. The increase in population from 1903 to 1913 was about 20 per cent, while expenditures increased about 110 per cent. The increase has been more marked in some fields than in others, the most noticeable being in protection to person and property, charities, and schools. Some abnormalities may be found in tables for particular years. A decrease in expenditures for schools may appear, for example, while expenditures for charities may take the rank of first importance for this same year.

Comparative statistics of incorporated places, in so far as they are available, show exactly the same trend of expenditure - upward. Not only is this true of cities of small population, but it is evident in the increasing cost of government as cities become larger. A study of the following table is interesting, not only from the standpoint of increasing expenditure as population increases, but also from the standpoint of the relative importance of the various classes of expenditure, which will be treated in the following chapter.

It is seen that, with practically no exception, after a city has reached a population of 50,000, a further growth in size necessitates a greater per capita increase in every line of its activity. When compared with preceding tables, the magnitude of city expenditures is evident. The corresponding burden on property is so great that a comparatively small number of urban citizens can afford to be property owners. The financial advantages of living just outside the corporation limits, yet enjoying much that the city has to offer, are quite evident when, in 1913, the total per capita expenditure of counties was $4.49, while for 146 cities it was $32.46.