SIPRI data shows world military expenditure in 2018 grew to $1.8 trillion

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An F35 jet flies through the air

World military expenditure has risen to $1.822 trillion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2017, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The increased figure represents an average spend of $239 per person. The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 per cent of global military spending. Military spending by the USA increased for the first time since 2010, while spending by China grew for the 24th consecutive year. Key details from the data include:

  • Military spending in South America rose by 3.1 per cent in 2018. This was mainly due to the increase in spending by Brazil, up 5.1 per cent.
  • Military expenditure in Africa fell by 8.4 per cent in 2018, the fourth consecutive annual decrease since the peak in spending in 2014. There were major decreases in spending by Algeria (–6.1 per cent), Angola (–18 per cent) and Sudan (–49 per cent).
  • Military spending by states in the Middle East for which data is available fell by 1.9 per cent in 2018.
  • Total military expenditure by all 29 NATO members was $963 billion in 2018, which accounted for 53 per cent of world spending.
  • The largest absolute increase in spending in 2018 was by the USA ($27.8 billion), while the biggest decrease was by Saudi Arabia (–$4.6 billion).
  • Military spending in Turkey increased by 24 per cent in 2018 to $19.0 billion, the highest annual percentage increase among the world’s top 15 military spenders.
  • Six of the 10 countries with the highest military burden (military spending as a proportion of GDP) in the world in 2018 are in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8 per cent of GDP), Oman (8.2 per cent), Kuwait (5.1 per cent), Lebanon (5.0 per cent), Jordan (4.7 per cent) and Israel (4.3 per cent).

The USA and China lead increase in world military expenditure

US military spending grew—for the first time since 2010—by 4.6 per cent, reaching $649 billion in 2018. The USA remained by far the largest spender in the world, and spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined. China, the second-largest spender in the world, increased its military expenditure by 5.0 per cent to $250 billion in 2018. This was the 24th consecutive year of increase in Chinese military expenditure. Its spending in 2018 was almost 10 times higher than in 1994, and accounted for 14 per cent of world military spending.

Three decades of growth in military spending in Asia and Oceania

Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania has risen every year since 1988. At $507 billion, military spending in the region accounted for 28 per cent of the global total in 2018, compared with just 9.0 per cent in 1988:

  • In 2018 India increased its military spending by 3.1 per cent to $66.5 billion.
  • Military expenditure by Pakistan grew by 11 per cent (the same level of growth as in 2017), to reach $11.4 billion in 2018.
  • South Korean military expenditure was $43.1 billion in 2018—an increase of 5.1 per cent compared with 2017 and the highest annual increase since 2005.

Increases in Central and East European countries

Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe made large increases in their military expenditure in 2018. Spending by Poland rose by 8.9 per cent in 2018 to $11.6 billion, while Ukraine’s spending was up by 21 per cent to $4.8 billion. Spending by Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania also grew (ranging from 18 per cent to 24 per cent) in 2018.

At $61.4 billion, Russian military spending was the sixth highest in the world in 2018. Its spending decreased by 3.5 per cent compared with 2017. 

The original version of SIPRI's press release can be found here: https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/world-military-expenditure-grows-18-trillion-2018

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