Comparing U.S. Federal Spending with Revenue
In 2021, the U.S. government spent $6.8 trillion on various expenditures and government-aided programs. Where was this money spent, and how much was covered by taxpayers’ dollars?
This graphic by Truman Du shows a breakdown of U.S. federal spending in 2021, as well as a breakdown of where the money came from, using data from USAspending.gov.
Money Comes and Goes
In 2021, U.S. government revenue totaled more than $4 trillion. About half of it came from individual income taxes, while about 30% came from Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Here’s a full breakdown of revenue sources in 2021:
|U.S. Government Revenue Source||2021 Amount ($B)|
|Individual income taxes||$2,044|
|Social security and medicare taxes||$1,247|
|Corporate income taxes||$372|
|Estate and gift taxes||$27|
Despite the trillions in revenue generated, like most years, U.S. federal spending was higher in 2021, which put the federal government in a budget deficit of $2.7 trillion.
This was the second highest deficit on record, down from a peak of $3.1 trillion in 2020 during the height of the global pandemic.
After income and Social Security spending, health was the third-largest expenditure in 2021. Here’s a look at the full breakdown, and where spending was allocated last year:
|U.S. Government Spending Category||2021 Amount ($B)|
|Commerce and housing credit||$304|
|Administration of Justice||$72|
|Community and regional development||$47|
|General science, space and technology||$36|
|Offsetting revenue collected but not attributed to functions||($124)|
Spending is expected to curb further in 2022. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office via AP News, the 2022 deficit is projected to drop to $1.15 trillion and will continue to decrease for the next three years.
U.S. National Debt
In March 2021, U.S. national debt reached an all-time high of $28 trillion. That includes intragovernmental holdings, which is about $6 trillion of debt owed within the government itself.
While overall debt is rising, the cost of servicing this debt has actually dropped in recent years thanks to record low interest rates.
However, with interest rates on the rise again this year, servicing the existing national debt is becoming more expensive.
And eventually, when it comes time for the U.S. government to refinance its loans, a greater portion of the federal budget will need to be allocated to servicing debt, which will put a squeeze on other areas of spending.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.
How Do You Quantify Polarization?
Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:
- How divided is their country?
- How entrenched is the divide?
The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.
Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.
In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.
|Economic Anxieties||Will my family be better off in five years?|
|Institutional Imbalance||Government is viewed as unethical and incompetent.|
|Class Divide||People with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.|
|Battle for Truth||Echo chambers, and a low trust in media.|
Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.
Severely Polarized Countries
Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.
43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.
Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.
Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:
🇺🇸 United States
🇿🇦 South Africa
In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.
And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.
Moderately Polarized Countries
The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.
Less Polarized Countries
Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.
Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.
As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.
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