Comparision of Government Expenditures: USA vs. Norway

How do the government expenditures of USA and Norway differ?. USA follows the capitalist economic model whereas Norway is a socialist country. It is a general notion that the US spends less on social entitlement programs compared to socialist countries. When we compare the expenditures of Norway and US using the charts below, there is not much difference between these countries especially when it comes to social programs.

USA – The Federal Budget for 2008


Norway – Government Expenditures in 2008


Source: Statistics Norway

The top 3 areas of US expenditures are : Defense and Security, Social security, Medicare and the like. The US spent 21% of the budget on defense and security compared to under 5% by Norway in 2008. This is understandable since the US maintains hundreds of military facilities worldwide and currently runs two wars.

Norway spent about 55% on social benefits and health-care. The total expenses spent on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP and Safety Net Programs equaled 52%. This comparison clearly shows that the US spends more than half of the budget on social programs. Despite being a capitalist country, it shows that the government has become socialistic over the years. Though the “public” option has been eliminated from the health care reform, Uncle Sam is the main provider of health insurance for most of the senior citizens thru Medicaid and Medicare. All these entitlement programs cost the government a lot of money and will continue to grow in the future. Some say that the government run entitlement programs such as the Social Security is the largest ponzi scheme of all as majority of the funds needed for these programs are borrowed from lenders or paid out of tax revenue from workers.

Since Norway is a surplus country it does not have interest payments. As of July this year the US budget deficit amounted to $1.3 Trillion. This US borrows heavily from other countries including the major lenders China and Japan to fund its operations. As a result , 8% of the US budget goes to the payment of interest on national debt. In 2008, the total interest payments were $253 B. As more funds of borrowed to finance additional social welfare programs and the various corporate bailout programs like TARP, this part of the budget will definitely increase. From another perspective, one can say that 8% of the national expenditure went to waste unnecessarily in the form of interest payments.

The remaining 19% of the US budget went to all other areas such as education, transportation infrastructure,scientific research, etc. It would be better if a higher percentage of government spending is allocated for these areas.


  1. I am interested in three things:
    How do doctor fees in Norway compare to those in the U.S.?
    Please give break down of what Norway’s social services include and the cost of each category.
    Has Norway borrowed from China etc. If so why have they done that?

  2. Marilyn
    Thanks for your comment.

    Unfortunately I do not have the answers for your questions.Please some research on the internet.


  3. This comparison does not look good for the US. If the US spends the same amount as Norway on social entitlements, where does the money actually go? Norwegian social entitlements include:

    Pensions (min U$ 12 000/year, rising for everyone who has worked to quite high amounts for people with long careers and high wages)
    Child benefits (U$ 2000/year per child under 18, for everyone)
    Maternity/paternity leave 40 weeks at 100 % pay or 54 weeks at 80% for every child, paid for by the social security
    Insurance, paying out for people who aquire injuries or disabilities
    Child support (U$ 6000 per child age 3 and down who do not go to kindergarten)
    Burial support (1300 $ per burial)
    Sick pay at 100% of wages for 50 weeks. Paid for by social security.
    Early pension for people too sick or injured to work
    Free dental until the age of 18
    Free health care for life. High quality, and low waiting times for serious matters.
    Free education all the way, and support for students who chose to go to other countries to study.

    Probably other stuff I’ve forgotten or take for granted.

    If the US spend as much as Norway on social support, it’d be like the third world dictatorships, with most of the money vanishing on the way.

    Of course, the fundamental flaw is assuming that because a percentage in spending is similar, the number of dollars spent must be similar. Norways government spending is a far larger percentage of GDP than US government spending.

    To Marily Colier: As far as I know, Norway has no need to borrow money from China, being a surplus country.
    Costs of a doctors visit is covered by general taxation, with a co-pay of about $ 40 to see a doctor, and $ 80 to see a specialist. Your yearly medical expenses exceeding $ 300 a year are fully covered including co-pays. Including treatment in foreign countries if it is neccessary. (If your condition is life-threatening, and you are not offered immediate treatment, you can go to a foreign hospital and your local health authority has to cover it.)

    The exception is non-reconstructive cosmetic surgery or other private medical procedures, which you are on your own with.

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