Statistics of indebtedness of the Federal government and some of the minor political divisions, inaccurate as they may be, present some interesting comparisons. The following table gives the comparative net indebtedness of the Federal, state, and city governments for five successive years.1
Cities with More than 30,000 Population
1919 1918 1917 1916 1915
$519,887,000 502,493,000 501,943,000 459,661,000 424,155,000
$4.95 4.86 4.93 4.59 4.31
$2,698,000,000 2,661,451,000 2,587,083,000 2,473,104,000 2,355,149,000
Not available $77.53 77.78 76.64 75.56
A comparison of these figures shows a general increase in indebtedness, and an enormous increase in the indebtedness of the Federal government, a part of which can be accounted for by the Great War. In normal years the national indebtedness has been much more than double that of the states. The city indebtedness, on the other hand, has been more than double that of the Federal government.
Indebtedness of States. - No uniformity can be found in comparing the indebtedness of individual states. The following table, which shows the indebtedness of some of the states, indicates that the Eastern states and newer Western states have an indebtedness far exceeding that of the Central states. This can be explained readily when due cognizance is taken of the fact that in the Eastern
1 This table and the ones following in this chapter, unless otherwise indicated, were compiled from reports of the Bureau of the Census.
states much public improvement is being undertaken, while in the newer states the process of initial development is still present. In the Central states, however, the developmental stage is past, and they have not as yet begun the stage of intensive improvements. The state of Pennsylvania appears an exception to this generalization. This situation is explained by the fact that it is a part of her fiscal policy to avoid as nearly as possible the creation of indebtedness.
Table Showing the Net Indebtedness OF Particular States (1918)
The growth of the indebtedness of a progressive state such as New York, over a period of years, is interesting, as is also the growth in a central state, such as Illinois, which has not as yet undertaken such extensive public works. The comparative tables follow. Illinois is now beginning road building, so that in the future it is possible the wide differences in indebtedness may disappear.
Net Indebtedness of the State of New York
1 The addition of the funded and floating indebtedness does not give the total indebtedness because a few items are not considered in either class.
Net Indebtedness oF the State oF Illinois
Indebtedness of Cities. - The indebtedness of cities is found to vary directly with the size of the city. In nearly every case the floating debt is less than the funded. The limitations placed upon the indebtedness of some municipalities prevents figures from indicating the extent to which borrowing would be used if the restrictions were absent. The following table shows the indebtedness of some cities, the population of which varies:
Net Indebtedness of Particular Cities (1918)
Many cities in the various groups will have a total and per capita indebtedness out of proportion to the population. The city of Chicago, for example, has a remarkably low indebtedness for its size. If space permitted to show figures for a large number of cities, the tendency for indebtedness to increase in proportion to the population could easily be traced.