Analysing global military spending

Though the majority of the world population may not experience the challenges of a battlefield, the effects of wars on our daily life cannot be denied. While the world is constantly fighting against starvation, poverty and malnutrition, the global military expenditure keeps on increasing in an unprecedented way! Military expenditure is one of the most important component of annual financial budgets for most of the countries. Although the amount varies largely from country to country, the driving force and its impacts on economy are rather similar across the borders.

Analysing global military spending

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

- Albert Einstein

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, marking a steep escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which had begun in 2014. The invasion has caused Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 6.5 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. Gradually, many of the powerful countries around the world have got involved in the war, either directly or indirectly.


Global level

The global military expenditure has reached an all-time high of US$2.1 trillion at current prices in 2021 for the first time in history. In comparison, the IMF estimates that additional spending of about $1.3 trillion (2016 US$) per year during 2019–30 is required to make meaningful progress toward “the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world”. In fact, only 7 countries in the world had recorded higher GDP in 2021 than the amount world spent for military!

Countries with lower GDP than the global Military Expenditure (2021)

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent contraction in global economic output, the global military spending rose again in 2021, 8th consecutive year since 2014. In fact, the world spending for Military has witnessed near consistent growth, resulting about 78.6% growth since 2000.

Trend in the global millitary spending
(Million $US)


Regional level

The distribution of spending at regional level, is markedly skewed. While North America contributes more than 39.4% of the total spending, Asia & Oceania, including the Middle East contribute 36.4% with the rest of the world contributing to 24.1% of the total Military spending in 2021.

Over the years, the Americas constantly accounts for the highest share of military spending at the continent level. While Asia & Oceania has been consistently increasing the expenditure for military, the Europe’s share has been decreasing, on the other hand!

Trend in the regional millitary spending
(Million $US)


Country level

At country level, the military spending is far more disproportionate. USA alone had spent more than US$ 800 million in 2021 which is about 38.5% of the global spending, distantly followed by China (US$ 293.35 million), India (US$ 76.59 million) and United Kingdom (US$ 68.37 million). After USA, the next 10 highest spending countries accounts for 39% of the global spending. The rest of the world, consisting of more than 100 countries, accounts for 22.5% of the global spending.

Share of global millitary spending by country (2021)

The overall military expenditure compared to % of GDP, % of general government expenditure and per capita spending present very different pictures.

Share of global millitary spending (2021)

When it comes to the military spending as share of GDP, counties particularly the from Middle East leads the chart.

Top 10 countries with the highest military spending as share of GDP (2021)
Rank Country Amount (%)

World wide military spending as share of GDP (2021)

Military spending as share of Government spending

However, the share of Government spending does not follow any particular pattern.

Top 10 countries with the highest military spending as share of Government spending (2021)
Rank Country Amount (%)

World wide military spending as share of Government Spending (2021)

Military expenditure per capita

Not surprisingly, though, countries with higher GDP per capita spend higher per capita for military.

Corelation between GDP per capita & military spending per capita (2021)

GDP per capita less than Military expenditure per capita of Qatar (2021)

Over the years, USA has been consistently spending the highest amount for military. While China was at 2nd spot throughout the last decade, India has rapidly increased its expenditure, has reached to the 3rd spot.

Trend in military spending (Top 10 countries)

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