I have a pet statistic: for Brazil, the price of congress per year equals 0.1% of the GNP (see the cost of congress and the GNP)

I figure that either someone already uses this statistic, and is collecting it somewhere, or there is some other statistic that is considered more useful when trying to determine how "self serving" is a country's rulling class. Where can I find such a statistic?

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    To which you can add things like minister salaries and also guaranteed pension payouts. There is a tension between pay and efficiency however: if you pay too much under what private sector gigs would be paying for a similar managerial oversight level than you risk attracting people who are either untalented or just plan to enrich themselves on the side (bribes) or afterwards (lobbying). Roman senators paid to get elected to unpaid offices, they'd just get rich fleecing while in office. May 4, 2022 at 19:05
  • The other thing to consider is whether retirement benefits for politicians is derived from the nation's tax revenues or from a form of national wealth fund.
    – Fred
    May 5, 2022 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


That's tough, since a "self-serving" expense would be one that takes money without returning value to the country. It's usually easy to figure out the total COST of running a government (from salaries of legislators, bureaucrats, judges, etc.) because those costs are usually pretty well documented unless your government is repressive and totalitarian.

What's hard is determining the value added by government and expressing it as a monetary value. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but that may be another question worth asking on this stack exchange. Once you have a good way to calculate the value added, then just subtract the value added from the total cost, and you have your "self-serving" cost.

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