According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military spending totaled $1.776 trillion dollars in 2014, a recorded 0.4% decrease from the 2013 total. Global figures have been falling for three consecutive years since 2011, but the decreases continue to be minute, and spending is still significantly higher than that occurring in the not-too-distant 1980s. Military spending equaled 2.3% of global gross domestic product globally, and revealed a general pattern of defense expenditure decreases in the USA and Western Europe, increases in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East, and relative constancy in Latin American countries.
Military expenditures in the U.S. fell to $610 billion in 2014, representing a 6.5% decrease compared to the year before. The countries with the highest increases on military spending were Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. Saudi Arabia recorded the greatest increase, with figures rising by 17%. Meanwhile, more than 20 countries, principally in Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe, spent more than 4% of their GDP on arms, military personnel, and other military expenses.
5. France - $62.3 billion
France spent a total of $62.3 billion for military expenses in 2014, a 3.2% decrease from the previous year. Slow economic growth and austerity measures introduced after the global economic crisis of 2008 have contributed to the reduced French budget for defense. Further, the Military Programming legislation that was passed in 2013 aims to keep military spending at 2013 levels, which may also have influenced to the decrease in the country’s defense budget as well.
4. Saudi Arabia - $80.8 billion
This Middle Eastern country recorded the highest percentage of growth in military spending worldwide in 2014. Saudi Arabia spent $80.8 billion in 2014 compared to 62.8 billion in 2013, a 17% increase. The marked increase in Saudi Arabian military spending was prompted to some extent by increased conflicts across the Middle East as well as higher revenue from 2014 oil sales and surpluses in financial reserves maintained by the country carried over from previous years’ oil sales.
3. Russia - $84.5 billion
Russia, the world’s largest exporter of arms, spent $84.5 billion dollars on arms, military personnel, procurement and other military costs in 2014. After this 8.1% increase from the previous year’s defense expenditures, the country plans to slash 2015 expenses due to a drop in oil prices.
2. China - $216 billion
China spent 216 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2014, a 9.7% rise over the previous year’s figure. Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between economic growth and military spending, and China’s spending has tended to reflect this very pattern over the past five years. Although China is a major arms exporter, it tends to import an almost equal amount of weapons as well. An interesting side effect of China’s military spending has been a concurrent increase in defense spending by surrounding countries, including Vietnam and Japan. China also has the biggest active military with 2,285,000 soldiers.
1. United States - $610 billion
The United States remained the world’s largest military spender in 2014, with $610 billion dollars of the country’s government spending being used to purchasing arms, and pay salaries to personnel, and other military expenses. The USA’s spending represents 34% of total global military expenditure, although this figure is likely to decrease as a result of the 2011 Budget Control act. Regardless, the United States will still likely account for a larger share of global military spending than any other country for many years to come.