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11 Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

Did you ever wonder which are the countries with the smallest government per capita in the world? Well, we have, and we got some news for you!

When we say that some government is big or small, it can mean different things. Its size can be measured by its power or influence, as well as the number of employees. Also, government size usually reflects the government’s spending relative to the size of the country’s economy. Furthermore, general government spending is an indication of the size of a government and its measured as a share of GDP and per person. The government that is characterized by centralization of political power, high taxation and spending, as well as extensive bureaucracy and various regulations and policies is considered as “big” government, while it’s opposite in the case of the “small” government. For those who are not familiar with the terms, here comes a brief introduction. GDP is “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.” Nominal GDP estimates are used to determine the economic performance of a whole country or region in order to ease the comparisons on the international level. However, nominal GDP per capita cannot reflect differences in the cost of living or the inflation rates of different countries. What is used in those comparisons is GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP). As the GDP is closely connected to the budget, we find necessary to mention the terms budget deficit and surplus, as well. Having a deficit would mean that government’s expenditures exceed revenues, or in other words – a government spends too much money. For example, Mexico’s government budget deficit was equal to -2.85 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2016. In contrast, the government budget of Germany, which is one of the biggest ones in Europe, has a budget surplus, which indicates that revenues exceed expenditures. In general, as you can see, the world’s government budgets are measured by their revenues and expenditures. For example, Chinese government budget revenues are $2,672 trillion, while expenditures are $3,146 trillion! That is a huge amount of money! However, having in mind how many people live in China and how big the country is, it is quite a reasonable budget.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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A deficit in government budget is something that occurs nearly every year, and it’s an issue in a number of countries. If you want to learn more about it, we advise you to check out the budget deficit by country for the year 2016. In general, government spending per capita by country should be a highly transparent thing. Therefore, the OECD made a country rankings according to the general government spending expressed as a percentage of GDP.

To get back to our topic, the terms “big” or “small” governments are also used to show how much a government is involved in certain areas of the public or private sector in a country. So, we can say that North Korea, for example, has a “big” government, as they decide and control almost every aspect of living in the country. On the other hand, Scandinavian governments would be examples of the small ones. The logical conclusion would be that the size of a country’s government is closely related to how free is its population, right? Meaning, the bigger the country’s government, the less free population is. Let’s test this hypothesis, shall we? First, check out our articles such as 15 Countries with the Freest Press in the World and 15 Countries With the Strictest Gun Laws in the World and then compare them to this one, and see it for yourself.

What is also interesting, is that some researchers examined the efficiency of small and big governments in terms of a number of employed people. They found out that countries with small governments are far more productive and efficient. “Small” governments post the highest efficiency among industrialized countries and the differences are shown in 40 percent higher scores than the “big” governments.

In order to create our genuine list of the countries with the smallest governments per capita, we had two steps in our research. First, we took suggestions from the sources such as the Quora and Visual.Ly, to check out the level of government expenditures as a percentage of  GDP, and previously mentioned Cato Institue’s article on reasons why a small government is an efficient government. Also, we included the OECD’s country rankings. When we singled out the most mentioned countries, we checked the number of people employed in each of them (ministers, prime ministers, etc.). Once we obtained data, we ranked them in that manner. So, we are starting off our list with the biggest size government per capita. On the top of the list is the smallest one.

Let’s see which are the countries with the smallest government per capita in the world!

11. China

Government per capita: 35

We start our list of countries with the smallest government per capita in the world with, believe it or not, China! This enormous country has just 35 leading people in the government. It has twenty-six ministers plus Premier, Vice-Premiers, and State Councilors; all form the State Council – the Chinese term for the government. The State Council along with the Prime minister are heads of the government are the most important executive body for the country. As for the China government budget for the last two years, check out Trading Economics. Not to be any confusion, we are talking about the People’s Republic of China.

10. Costa Rica

Government per capita: 25

We are continuing our list of countries with the smallest government per capita in the world with Costa Rica, which is a democratic, free and independent republic, as it is written on their official website. Cabinet of Government is chosen by the President, while The President of the Republic is, simultaneously, Head of Government and the Head of State. Currently, there are 25 members of the executive government body, without counting the legislative body (Parliament).

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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9. USA

Government per capita: 23

The USA has the so-called Cabinet. Its main role is to advise the President on any subject he may require that are linked with the duties of each member’s respective office. The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments-the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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8. Sweden

Government per capita: 23

The Swedish government is currently in the process of legislative change. However, they still count 23 people involved in the governmental activities. Those are mainly ministers and the Prime minister. As the Scandinavian countries are known to be among the most developed countries if the world, their governments are very committed to climate, energy and environment policy, cooperation on migration and a secure EU in a secure world.

7. Singapore

Government per capita: 21

Seventh on our list of the countries with the smallest government per capita in the world is Singapore! Their government is represented by the Cabinet which is consisted of 21 employees. The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other ministers from the Members of Parliament to form the Cabinet, which is a usual practice in democratic states.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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6. Hong Kong

Government per capita: 21

When it comes to Hong Kong, we first need to give one simple explanation for the ones who are not informed. The government of Hong Kong is exclusively in charge of Hong Kong’s internal affairs and external relations, and they are also, financially independent of the People’s Republic of China. However, defense and foreign policy are not in the control of Hong Kong. Their system is so-called “one country, two systems” constitutional principle.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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5. Japan

Government per capita: 20

On the fifth place of the countries with the smallest government per capita in the world list is Japan. It is a constitutional monarchy with the Emperor on the top. However, his role is limited and is relegated primarily to ceremonial duties. Instead, it is the Cabinet, composing of the Ministers of State and the Prime Minister, that directs and controls the Government. The Government runs under the framework established by the Constitution of Japan, which was adopted back in 1947.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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4. Luxembourg

Government per capita: 18

In Luxembourg, The Grand Duke is the Head of the State. Any measure adopted by the Grand Duke in the exercise of his constitutional powers and it must be countersigned by a member of Government, which assumes full responsibility. Therefore, this government has 12 members who have the title of ministers, three secretariat of the state, deputy minister and Prime minister, which is in total 18 members.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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3. Estonia

Government per capita: 15

The government of Estonia ranks third on our list of countries with the smallest government per capita in the world. It is also called, as in the many previously mentioned countries, the Cabinet. Its duties are to carries out the country’s domestic and foreign policy, shaped by the parliament whose name is the Riigikogu. It represents the main authority within the executive power, and it is headed by the Prime Minister.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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2. Hungary

Government per capita: 14

The Government of Hungary exercises executive power in Hungary and it is led by the Prime Minister, currently Viktor Orban. He has the power to select the Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. As any other, the Cabinet is responsible to the parliament of the country. Also, it is worth mentioning, that the National Assembly (parliament), elects the Prime minister.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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1. Andorra

Government per capita: 12

Finally, on the top of our list of the countries with the smallest government per capita in the world is, believe it or not, Andorra! Their government is known by the other name as the Executive council of the country. Indeed a small country with a very small number of people! However, they are functioning pretty good. They have been known as the country with long-term peaceful traditions, that hasn’t got armed forces, so their concentration is mainly on the “cultural dialogue” and the establishment of friendship with other countries.

Countries with the Smallest Government Per Capita in the World

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This wraps it up for our list of countries with the smallest government per capita in the world.