Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships

By E. S. Savas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO The Growth of Government

THE FIVE FORCES propelling privatization have an inviting target--governments that are large and growing throughout the world. This chapter examines the size and growth of governments in the United States. After a brief look at other industrialized nations, the remainder of the chapter explores the reasons why governments grow.


The Size of Government

Three different measures are used here to define the size of government: the number of government units, their expenditures, and the number of people they employ. Each is discussed in turn.


Number of Governments

People sometimes think of government as one giant organization, but in fact there are many governments in the United States--87,454 of them in 1997 to be exact. Table 2.1 shows the number of different government


TABLE 2.1--NUMBER OF GOVERNMENT UNITS IN THE UNITED STATES
Kind of government 1942 1957 1967 1977 1987 1997
Federal 1 1 1 1 1 1
State 48 50 50 50 50 50
County 3,050 3,050 3,049 3,042 3,042 3,043
Town and township 18,919 17,198 17,105 16,822 16,691 16,629
Municipal 16,220 17,215 18,048 18,862 19,200 19,372
School district 108,579 50,454 21,782 15,174 14,721 13,726
Special district 8,299 14,424 21,264 25,962 29,532 34,683
Total 155,116 102,392 81,299 79,913 83,237 87,454
Source: Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1997 Census of
Governments
, Volume I ( Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1998).

-18-

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