Conflict & Justice

Here’s how the world is funding its armies


Lockheed Martin sent 20 F-16C/D fighter jets (pictured above) to the Egyptian Air Force in 2010.


Michel Porro

April 14th is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has just released a bunch of new findings to help you understand why such a day is necessary.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about global military expenditures in 2013.


1) Global military spending is down.

(Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2013, global military spending fell by 1.9 percent to a total of $1.75 trillion. It’s the second consecutive year that spending decreased. In 2012, it fell by 0.4 percent.


2) Regionally, spending is only down in North America, Western and Central Europe, and Oceania. It’s up everywhere else.

(Michel Porro/AFP/Getty Images)

Western nations are cutting or maintaing spending levels. For example, since 2008, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and every country in Central Europe (except for Poland) have all cut their military expenditures by 10 percent. Overall spending in Western Europe fell 2.4 percent in 2013 and 6 percent since 2004. Spending is also falling or holding in North America and Oceania.

Other regions have seen marked increases.

In Eastern Europe, spending rose 5.3 percent in 2013 and 112 percent since 2004. Latin America was 2.2 percent and 61 percent, respectively. Africa: 8.3 percent and 81 percent. Middle East: 4 percent and 56 percent. (These numbers might be skewed, since there were no data for Iran, Qatar, Syria, UAE, and Yemen.) Asia and Oceania: 3.6 percent and 62 percent.


3) The US is spending less but is still No. 1 by a wide margin.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Military spending in the United States fell 7.8 percent in 2013, although it’s grown 12 percent from 2004 until now. The 2013 budget was $640 billion, still well above its nearest competitor, China, which spent $188 billion. The United States accounts for so much of the world’s military expenditure that the 7.8 percent reduction was the difference between global spending increasing or decreasing in 2013. Take the United States out of the equation, and global spending actually increased by 1.8 percent.

Even with the decrease, the United States accounted for 37 percent of the world’s military spending.


4) The US's closest competitors are ramping up.

(Mikhail Klimentyev AFP/Getty Images)

China increased its military spending 7.4 percent in 2013 and 170 percent since 2004. In second place behind the United States, it accounted for 11 percent of the world’s military spending.

Russia increased 4.8 percent to $87.8 billion in 2013, and for the first time since 2003, spent a higher percentage of GDP on its military (4.1 percent GDP in Russia versus 3.8 percent in the United States). Its spending has increased 108 precent since 2004. Share of world’s spending: 5 percent.

Saudi Arabia jumped from seventh to fourth place in 2013. It increased spending by 14 percent to $67 billion, which is 9.3 percent of its GDP. That’s 3.8 percent of the world’s spending.


5) 23 countries doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013.


Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay, Argentine, Algeria, Ghana, Angola, Namibia, Swaziland, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

What do these very different countries have in common? They all share at least one of the following three characteristics that led to increased military spending: strong economic growth, high oil or gas revenue, and armed conflict.