Center for Arms Control

Security Spending

by Laicie Heeley [contact information]

U.S. Defense Spending vs. Global Defense Spending

April 24, 2014

In 2013, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the U.S. approved $600.4 billion in defense budget authority (fiscal year 2014 dollars). This figure includes funding for the Pentagon base budget, Department of Energy-administered nuclear weapons activities, and the war in Afghanistan.

This number accounts for 38 percent of total global military spending, putting the U.S. far above any potential adversary. The next closest country, China, comes in at just $112.2 billion, or 7 percent of total global military spending. No other country spent more than $70 billion in 2013.


Global Total: 1.56 trillion

Total Global Spending for 2013

Top Five Defense Budgets
(budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Top Five Global Defense Budgets

U.S. vs. Global Spending
(budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars)

U.S. Defense Spending vs. Next 15 Countries and Rest of World


2013 Defense ExpenditureII
(budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Country or Region 2012 Spending
United States (including war and nuclear) 600.4
Asia 321.8
Europe 279.0
Middle East and North Africa 167.8
Russia and Eurasia 78.1
Latin America and The Caribbean 70.9
Sub-Saharan Africa 23.1
Canada 16.4
Global Total 1,557.6


Countries of Interest
(budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Country 2013 Spending Percent of GDP
United States (including war and nuclear) 600.4 3.70
Canada 16.4 0.89
China 112.2 1.24
Russia 68.2 3.08
United Kingdom 57.0 2.35
France 52.4 1.91
Germany 44.2 1.23
Japan 51.0 0.99
India 36.3 1.84
Italy 25.2 1.22
Brazil 34.7 1.41
Australia 26.0 1.63
Saudi Arabia 59.6 7.99
South Korea 31.8 2.53
Israel 15.2 5.98
Taiwan 10.3 2.08
Iran 17.7 4.13
North Korea ** **
Pakistan 5.9 2.47
Venezuela 5.2 1.52
Iraq 16.9 7.24
Afghanistan 2.9 13.81
Oman 9.2 11.73
Jordan 1.2 3.57


IU.S. figure includes funding for the Pentagon base budget, Department of Energy-administered nuclear weapons activities, and the war in Afghanistan. Data from Congressional Research Service, Office of Management and Budget, and International Institute for Strategic Studies.

IIUnfortunately, there is no such thing as an agreed-upon international definition for “defense expenditure.” Many countries count spending differently and, in some cases, transparency is an issue.

The analysis above uses data from The Military Balance 2014, the authoritative reference almanac produced annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Defense spending estimates for China and Russia, both of which regularly underreport their annual military budgets, have been reported using a methodology known as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The Military Balance typically uses market exchange rates to convert countries’ defense spending figures into U.S. dollars. In the case of China and Russia, however, the market exchange rates fail to fully reflect the purchasing power of the yuan and the ruble, respectively. To compensate for this, The Military Balance 2014 uses PPP. This allows for a more balanced calculation of the numbers. All of the figures for China and Russia in the analysis above use PPP figures, which are significantly higher than both officially reported and market exchange rate figures.

The bottom line is that this analysis uses the highest possible defense spending estimates for China and Russia.

**The U.S. State Department estimates North Korean military spending at as much as a quarter of Gross National Product (GNP), with up to 20% of men ages 17-54 in the regular armed forces. Any publicly available estimates on DPRK defense spending are unreliable.

Laicie Heeley 202-546-0795 ext. 2105 lheeley@armscontrolcenter.org

Laicie Heeley is Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where her work focuses on weapons proliferation, military spending and global security issues.

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