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To help demonstrate that the creation of a monetary and political union in Europe is justified by the fact that European countries share typical features, or ‘anomalies’, that differentiate them from extra-European countries, this essay (part of a research project funded by the Compagnia di San Paolo bank) deals with the composition and total amount of European public spending. The latter is substantially higher than in other countries, partly because of the relative elderliness of the population, another distinctive trait of Europe. This essay sets out to document not only how, in the last 25 years, the public spending of European countries (overall and one by one) has been higher than that of non-European countries, but also how, far from diminishing, the difference has actually grown, so much so that the dispersion of spending figures among European countries has shrunk whereas, with respect to the rest of the world, it has broadened.