A centralized government is one in which the authority and responsibility of governing rests with a small group at the highest level of government. Most governments have at least some centralized functions. Some governments are entirely centralized, placing all authority in the hands of a single dictator or political party. There are both advantages and disadvantages to the centralization of government.

Advantages of Centralized Government

China has a strong centralized government; the U.S. does not.
China has a strong centralized government; the U.S. does not.

The main benefit of highly centralized government is that they tend to be efficient at accomplishing the government's goals. This is because they have more direct control over both taxation and other forms of government revenue and government expenditures such as social welfare programs and maintaining military forces than less centralized forms of government. Other benefits of centralized government include cohesion in government planning and the ability to promote common culture within the country.

Disadvantages of Centralized Government

The U.S. has a federal government with responsibility divided between national and state levels.
The U.S. has a federal government with responsibility divided between national and state levels.

The main disadvantage of centralized government is that it tends to lack the checks and balances that less centralized governments have. Centralized governments also tend to develop "one size fits all" programs that address the needs of the nation as a whole but may fail to meet the needs of distinct cultural groups within the country.