Statistics on Military Spending

Content

1. Total military spending by region and country
2. National military spending as percentage of global military spending, ranking of biggest spenders
3. Military spending as percentage of GDP
4. Military spending per capita
5. Number of soldiers per capita
6. Number of nuclear weapons

1. Total military spending by region and country

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There’s clearly one in particular who’s doing his best:

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defense budgets map

Global military spending fell by 0.5% to $1.75 trillion in 2012. This small decline is the first decline since 1998.

military spending over time

(source)

The U.S accounts for 39% of global military expenditures in 2012, by far the highest of any country. In fact, all of the US’s NATO allies combined spend less than half what the US does. The U.S. spends more on its military than the next ten countries combined.

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military spending

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In percentages:

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The United States spent $728 billion on its military in 2010, or about 45 percent of the world’s total, more than the next 14 largest military spenders combined and nearly six times more than the next biggest spender, China. The US spent slightly less in 2011 and 2012, resulting in a fall of its share in global spending to below 40%. However, in real terms, the US still spends 69% more in 2012 than it did in 2001. While countries around the world on average spent 2.5% of GDP on the military in 2012, the U.S. military spending in 2012 was 4.4% of GDP.

Global military spending amounts to 2.5% of world gross domestic product (GDP) and more than $200 for each person in the world. (Compare: only 0.3% of world GDP is spent on development aid, meaning that the world spends more than 8 times as much on the military as on aid).

military spending 2012

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Some older data:

world military spending

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top 15 military spenders

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biggest military spenders

top 10 defense budgets

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Western Europe has seen the lowest increase in spending, but the levels of spending vary a lot between countries:

europe military spending

China is a particular worry given its substantial increases in spending and the lack of transparency in its budgets:

china military spending

China spent $129 billion in 2011, and has increased its spending broadly in line with its GDP growth. Over the past decade China’s military budget has risen by 175%.

Russia as well has recently increased its military spending. Its spending increased by 9.3% in 2011, to $64.1 billion. It is now the third biggest spender worldwide, ahead of both France and Britain. Russia further increased spending by 16% in 2012 and additional rises are planned to 2015.

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2. National military spending as percentage of global military spending, and ranking of biggest spenders

Countries’ military spending expressed in terms of percentages of global spending gives us a ranking of the biggest spenders:

defense spending shares

biggest military spenders

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defense spending by region and country 2011

(source)

The champion of military spending is the U.S., which accounted for 45 % world total in 2007, followed by the U.K., China, France, Russia and Japan, with 3 to 5 % each.

military spending US rest of the world

us military budget

(source)

The U.S., however, did not substantially increase its spending over the last decades (the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have led to an increase but not a lot beyond historic levels). In fact, measured as a share of its GDP, its spending decreased somewhat (it’s now about 5% of its GDP, still double of world average):

us military spending

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defense budget USA

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defense budget USA as share of GDP

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3. Military spending as percentage of GDP

And, indeed, in order to get a more accurate picture of a country’s level of defense spending, one should relate this spending to GDP. Russia and America each spent the equivalent of 4.4% of GDP, considerably higher than the global average of 2.5%, but much lower than that of Saudia Arabia, at 8.9%. China spends around 2% of its GDP.

defence budgets

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defense spending

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defense spending as percentage of GDP 2011

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Here is, for the year 2010, a nice side-by-side comparison of the total spending and the spending related to GDP:

military spending percentage of GDP

military spending as percentage of GDP

military spending total

military spending, total

(source)

nato-spending

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4. Military spending per capita

It’s also interesting to compare military spending with the population numbers of different countries. Compared to spending per GDP or total spending, this may give an even more accurate comparisons since it’s arguably the size of the population in need of protection rather than the wealth of the population that should determine the size of the military.

defense spending per capita

(source)

However, one can argue that neither a country’s wealth nor the size of its population should determine defense budgets. The vulnerable to attack should count.

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5. Number of soldiers per capita

Apart from military spending per capita, the number of soldiers per capita can also give a good indication of military strength:

number of soldiers per 100000 people

(source)

There’s often a strong correlation between the number of armed forces per population and military spending related to GDP. The black lines in the image below are the averages across countries of military spending as a percentage of GDP.  The red lines are the average across countries of armed forces per 1,000 population (source).

military-spending

These are striking long-run declines. However, reductions in spending can be due to more efficient spending. And reductions in armed forces can be the result of less labor intensive ways of making war.

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6. Number of nuclear weapons

Also interesting to note is that the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France, India, Pakistan, North-Korea and Israel together have more than 25.000 nuclear arms.

nuclear weapons inventories

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world nuclear weapons stockpiles

world nuclear weapons stockpiles

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Update:

nuclear-weapons-world1

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Nuclear_Stockpiles_Overview

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14 Comments

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  12. Well the UK just announced a billion in armed forces investment, but they have a long way to go to catch the US with 700 billlion

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