Sunday, June 11, 2017

Major Power's Military Expenditure │ 1830 - 2007

Source: OurWorldinData.

Max Roser and Mohamed Nagdy (2016) - There are two ways in which we might want to measure military spending; the first way is spending in real terms and the second is as a percentage of GDP. Military expenditure in real terms is important since the absolute level of expenditure matters for the outcome of war. The US spending 10% of its GDP fighting a war is likely to defeat a low or middle income country spending 50% or more of its GDP. Yet, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP allows us to get a handle on the priorities and ambitions of a country. The military expenditure of a country is largely determined by the whether it is at war or not. Outside of wartime, countries continue to spend substantial sums on maintaining their military capability. [Above] are two time series plots of military expenditure in real terms; the first is in thousands of 1900 UK pounds for the period 1830-1913, the second is in thousands of 2000 US dollars for the period 1914-2007. 

The UK’s military spending as a percentage of GDP in peacetime fluctuates around 2.5%, in times of war however, military spending rises dramatically. At the height of the Second World War, the UK was spending around 53% of its GDP on its military. Such a dramatic rise is consistent with the existential danger faced by the UK during the Second World War.