Analysing global military spending

Though majority of the world population may not experience the challenges of a battle field, 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 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

Person holding rifle in Czech Republic (Photo by Michael Mráz on Unsplash)

The global military expenditure rose to $1922 billion in 2019 with consistent increase in recent years. The increase of 3.5% in 2019 was the largest annual growth in spending since 2010. The highest annual increase at 6.5% in spending was in 2003 since 2000.

Global Military Expenditure (in US$ billions)

North America is the highest military spending region ($805 billion) in the world, with Asia and Oceania ($531 billion) at second position, followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa.

USA has the highest military spending in the entire world, with China at distant second position followed by India. In fact the total expenditure of USA is more than that of the next 9 countries in total or the total expenditure of the rest of the world.

Military expenditure by Country in 2019 (in US$ billions)

The overall military expenditure compared to % of GDP, % of general government expenditure and per capita spending present very different pictures. While the overall average military expenditure stands at about 1.8% of total GDP of the world in 2019, it varies from 8.76% in Oman, followed by Saudi Arabia (7.98%) to less than 0.001% in smaller countries and islands like Haiti, Costa Rica and Panama.

In contrary, Belarus leads in Military expenditure as % of general government expenditure in 2019 at 31.8%, followed by Singapore (21.38%). It is evident that most of the smaller counties and island nations tend to spend less for military.

The highest per capita expenditure for military was 2402.2 US$ in Iraq, followed by USA (2223.7 US$) and Singapore (1931.5 US$) in 2019.

Military expenditure by Country in 2019 as

The only open data available for military strength by counties is of Armed forces personnel, total and % of total labor force. While the populous countries namely India and China are at the top for total Armed forces personnel (3031K and 2695K respectively), its share to total labor force varies greatly. More than 9% of total labor force are armed forces personnel in North Korea, followd by Syria (4.66%). India (0.63%) and Chiana (0.34%) are far behind.

Armed forces personnel in 2017

"There have been attempts to produce a military strength index: this is an example taken from a Credit Suisse report in September 2015. The factors under consideration for that military strength indicator and their total weights were: number of active personnel in the armed forces (5%), tanks (10%), attack helicopters (15%), aircraft (20%), aircraft carriers (25%), and submarines (25%). It was practically impossible to make an estimation of the actual training of the armed forces."
These were the results:


Militray strength index (2015)