STORY Aug 13, 2018

Military expenditure has decreased as a share of the global economy, but increased in absolute terms

Data on military expenditures as a share of GDP illustrates the prominence of national defense in the economy. These expenditures cover personnel, including peacekeeping forces, as well as operations, procurement, military R&D, and military aid donated to others. The Middle East & North Africa region continues to have the highest share of GDP spent on the military compared to other regions, although this share is less than half of what it was 25 years ago. Oman and Saudi Arabia allocate the highest shares, 12 percent and 10 percent of their GDP, while countries such as Kuwait and Algeria spent in excess of 5 percent in 2017.

However, such expenditure shares offers only a partial picture of global military spending. In terms of total spending levels, the top 15 countries represent approximately 82 percent of global military spending, with United States and China accounting for almost half of global spending.