Culture and Size and Scope of Government

To return briefly to a side issue in the Weisberg/Yglesias debate, I think it’s worth explicitly putting my view on the table that the relationship between the nature of a society and the scope of its public sector activities runs in the reverse causal direction from the one he postulated. All countries seem to experience a growing welfare state as they development. But the Anglophone settler-states (US, Canada, New Zealand) tend toward a relatively low-tax, low-spending equilibrium likely because of some shared cultural traits. Developed East Asia also has some (almost certainly different) cultural traits that lead them toward relatively small government.

This sense is strengthened by the fact that I recall having read that divergence in Canadian and American values is largely driven by Canada’s Francophone population.