Advantages and Disadvantages of 3 Government Systems | TASC Test

December 29, 2014 thetasctest
iStock_000001152660Small The TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Social Studies subtest focuses largely on the history of the United States and how our country is operated. However, you’re also expected to be familiar with some terminology that applies to other types of governments and nations. These are primarily high emphasis topics. At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we know there’s a lot of material to cover – especially with the Social Studies subtest. We want our posts to help you process all of that material, including the material that applies to other nations. So, we’ve compiled information on the advantages and disadvantages of three different types of government systems. Prepare for your high school equivalency test and further your understanding of the interworking of the United States’ federal government.


According to educators at Skyline College, a unitary system is one central government that controls weaker states. This means that power is not shared between states, counties, or provinces. Examples of unitary governments include China, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. More often than not, unitary governments are absolute monarchies or tyrannies. (Though, it is worth noting that democratic unitary states exist.) Advantage: Unitary governments set uniform policies that direct the entire nation. This can make decision-making and law-making more aligned. Disadvantage: Unitary governments disregard local differences. For example, the United Kingdom is composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There are differences among these countries and their individual cultures that cannot be entirely accommodated by a unitary government.


A federal government is a system that shares power between a central government and sates or provinces. These states are given considerable self-rule, which is usually regulated through individual legislatures. Examples of federal governments include the United States, Germany, Australia, and Canada. Advantage: Federal governments give local governments more power. Disadvantage: Federal governments sacrifice national uniformity on some issues. For example, some states in the United States have recently legalized gay marriage while others have not – meaning citizens are not given uniform rights across the states. You can think of a federal government as a midpoint between a unitary government system and a confederacy. However, you should know that the central government remains powerful and these individual legislatures are often responsible for reporting to the central government in some capacity. An example from a popular U.S. Government and Politics Study Guide states that in the United States, individual state governments administered Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) from 1935 to 1997. Though the federal government set rules for how the money had to be spent, the state governments had the power to administer the money how they saw fit. Consequently, some states gave out more money than others.


A confederal system is a group of states or smaller political units (such as small nations) that have agreed to follow a powerful central government. The states that compose a confederacy are often weak or loosely organized. The majority of power is given to local governments, which means these states have a lot of freedom. The central government has very little power. Examples include the Confederate States of America (1861-1865), the former Soviet Union, Switzerland’s canton system, and Belgium. Advantages: A confederal government gives local or regional governments almost complete control of decision-making and law-making. Disadvantages: A confederal government sets no significant uniform national polices. Often, this can lead to conflict among the individual states and can undermine the alliance. It is worth noting that we have arranged this list in order of its level of centralization, from high to low. Centralization means that the activities of an organization (especially decision-making and law-making in terms of government systems) are concentrated within a particular location or group. This can impact how effective and efficient the system of government is.
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