We compare the size and structure of the public sectors of Canada and the United States from 1929 to 2004 using national accounting and employment data. The challenge of defining the public sector for comparative purposes is explored and illustrated, especially with respect to the treatment of non-profits, and a number of intriguing similarities and differences in the comparative evolution of the public sectors are identified that remain to be explained. Use of a new Fisher-type government deflator for Canada indicates that, as of 2003, real government spending relative to real income was about 27 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in both countries.

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Keywords Canada vs. United States, Comparative analysis, National accounting, Size of government, Structure of public expenditure, The bulge
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3138/cpp.33.2.173
Journal Canadian Public Policy
Ferris, J.S, & Winer, S. (2007). Just how much bigger is government in Canada? A comparative analysis of the size and structure of the public sectors in Canada and the United States, 1929-2004. Canadian Public Policy, 33(2), 173–206. doi:10.3138/cpp.33.2.173