There is a considerable amount of debate according to media, articles and public speakers about having a stronger GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) leads to a considerable expenditure in Military as states look to control its sphere of influence. Yet, there has not been enough research done regarding this view. The objective of this analysis is to find a correlation between a higher GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) and a higher Military Expenditure (per percentage of GDP), and to rationalise the higher expenditure of certain states from the top 15 spenders in military (Collected from CIA Factbooks).

According to many it has been widely acknowledged that a higher Military Expenditure is directly correlated with a higher GDP. The exact GDP of the highest Military Spenders will be analysed and compared to other high GDP states that do not spend as much correlative to GDP. The intention of this analysis is to disprove the viewpoint that is unjustified and to explore other reasons for having a high Military Expenditure (per percentage of GDP) in these selected states.

The aim of the research is to invalidate the claim that the highest amount of GDP results in a very high Military Expenditure. The research will choose the top fifteen states from the CIA Factbook list of high Military Expenditure. These data of the states is further analysed and an argument is presented in the latter part of the analysis.


The list of states are gathered from CIA Factbook, their Military Expenditure and GDP (PPP) will be analyzed. Each state will be looked at from news and academic articles and their justification for high Military expenditure will be analysed. The sources will be discussed and evaluated.
Analyzing and Interpreting data on GDP (PPP) and Military Expenditure:

Top 15 states‘Military Expenditure’:

Table 1.1

1 SOUTH SUDAN 10.32 2012
2 IRAQ 8.70 2014
3 OMAN 8.61 2012
4 SAUDI ARABIA 7.98 2012
5 ISRAEL 5.69 2012
6 AZERBAIJAN 4.70 2013
7 JORDAN 4.65 2012
8 ALGERIA 4.48 2012
9 UNITED STATES 4.35 2012
10 ARMENIA 4.10 2013
11 LEBANON 4.04 2012
12 YEMEN 4.02 2012
13 ANGOLA 3.63 2012
14 MOROCCO 3.55 2012
15 SINGAPORE 3.52 2012

*Table Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

This table here represents the highest Military Spenders according to CIA Factbook. This however, does not represent the true number of expenditure for each state. Rather this table portrays, the percentage of GDP spent on military for each of these states.

Graph 1.1

This Graph shows the expenditure of GDP in military.

Top 15 states ‘GDP (Purchasing Power Parity)’:

Table 1.2

1 CHINA $17.63 2014 EST.
2 EUROPEAN UNION $17.61 2014 EST.
3 UNITED STATES $17.46 2014 EST.
4 INDIA $7.28 2014 EST.
5 JAPAN $4.81 2014 EST.
6 GERMANY $3.62 2014 EST.
7 RUSSIA $3.57 2014 EST.
8 BRAZIL $3.07 2014 EST.
9 FRANCE $2.59 2014 EST.
10 INDONESIA $2.55 2014 EST.
11 UNITED KINGDOM $2.44 2014 EST.
12 MEXICO $2.14 2014 EST.
13 ITALY $2.07 2014 EST.
14 KOREA, SOUTH $1.79 2014 EST.
15 SAUDI ARABIA $1.62 2014 EST.

*Table Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

This table here contains the top 15 highest GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) states.

Graph 1.2

From the tables 1.1, 1.2 and graphs 1.1, 1.2 it can be easily observed (acquired from the World CIA Factbook) that not all states that are in the top fifteen of the Military Expenditure  list appear in the top fifteen list of the GDP. From this data it can be easily observed that many of the highest Military Spenders are states that are usually in a conflict zone and or have high security concerns. Furthermore, it is important toe that this analysis will not attempt to look at the total expenditure of states, rather will focus on the percentage of GDP.

From the two graphs provided it can be seen that not all states in the list of the highest Military Spenders end up spending the amount of funds in their own Military. However, it must also be noted that the amount of money available to some other states with a higher GDP end up spending a great deal of more funds in their Military than some of the top fifteen highest military spenders presented in the Factbook.

Correlations and Casual Relationships:

Graph 1.3

In graph 1.3 the gap between the GDP and the Military Expenditure ranks has been correlated. From this graph it can be seen that even though some states top the Military Expenditure rank due to their higher percentage, in reality, they have one of the lowest amount of funds spent in Military comparatively. The reason behind the expenditure of a high percentage of their GDP is due to the fact that their respective economies are not as large as some of the major spenders in military.

For instance, states such as United States, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Israel do not top the list of Military Expenditure (per percentage of GDP) but certainly top the list when Military Expenditure and GDP are compared and end up with the highest actual amount spent on Military from the chosen states. To support this observation states like South Sudan, Armenia, Jordan and Lebanon have the most amount of gap in the ranks of Military Expenditure and GDP. Therefore, this indicates their low amount of available funds because of their smaller economy. Thus, portraying that their total expenditure is not the highest in the world rather they are only spending sufficient amount of their resources due to their geopolitical circumstances.

Looking Critically at the Data:

Many of the states that top the list of the Military Expenditure are states that are concerned about national security and or have trouble with their neighbouring States. States such as Oman, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel are all in the same region. The latest wars along with the rise of terrorism in Iraq and neighbouring destabilised Syria explains the Iraqi government’s expenditure on military. The civil war in Libya, the uprisings in the North African region caused the governments of those regions such as Morocco, and Algeria to increase their security spending. In addition, Morocco has internal disputes in the Sahel region. Also, Algeria’s neighbour Libya and Mali have remained destabilised, thus, explaining the high expenditure of these states.

In addition, for instance Israel being the sole nuclear armed state in the Middle East. Its neighbouring states Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria had historical quarrels with Israel therefore, each of these states remain high in the expenditure list.

On the other hand, Yemen has been in a conflict in recent years with Saudi Arabia and their neighbour Oman have remained high on the expenditure list indicating their security concerns. These three states are at the bottom belt of the Arabian Peninsula and are bordering neighbours as a result of the unsettled conditions in Yemen these states have a higher expenditure. Moreover, Saudi Arabia shares its borders with Iran. In recent times Saudi Arabia and Iran have a rough relationship and therefore Iran and Saudi Arabia remain high spenders in that region.

States in Africa with the Economic impoverishment resulted in the rise of extremist groups such as Séléka, Anti-Balaka also recent proxies of Daesh has led many African states to increase their security measures.

Angola had a quarrel with apartheid South Africa spanning 23 years. South Africa’s strong economy and military, may suggest the high spending of Angola even though their relation in recent years have strengthened. However, the spread of extremist groups in Africa explains the Angolan expenditure. Also, Republic of Sudan and South Sudan recently portioned due to a civil war and both of the states have a high Military Expenditure.

Singapore has is relatively small in size, however, they have one of the highest living standards and economy in the world. Their expenditure in military cannot be fully explained. Nevertheless, the protection of their state and prosperity may be the reason for their spending.

Armenia has a historical conflict with its neighbour Turkey who remains one of the strongest military forces in the region. Also, Armenia has had land disputes with its other neighbour Azerbaijan therefore indicating the high expenditure in Military for these two states.

If realist theory is used the states that spend more in their military feel threatened by their neighbours. Thus increasing their military spending and that eventually leads to the increase in military spending of their neighbours and may result in an arms race.

From a liberal point of view, if countries start to mitigate and collaborate with their neighbours the economic benefits will increase as they become more interdependent. Eventually the threat from a neighbour is likely to reduce with increased diplomacy. Therefore, avoiding a arms race with its neighbours.


From this analysis it can be understood that the reason for military expenditure is not directly correlated with having a higher GDP as some states with the lowest GDP ended up being portrayed as one of the highest military spenders if the date is looked at from the perspective of GDP (per percentage). Also it should be acknowledged national security concerns and geopolitical implications influence a state’s expenditure in military. It is also suggested by research that a high expenditure retards the economic growth. However, the security of a state is ranked higher than most of other priorities in policy making.


  1. Amnesty International (2015) Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Available at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).
  2. AP (Mint Press News) (2015) China: U.S. Military Buildup Is Destabilizing Asia-Pacific Region, Available at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).
  3. BBC (2015) Guide: Why are Israel and the Palestinians fighting over Gaza?, Available at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).
  4. Bouckaert, P. (The Washington Post) (2015) The Central African Republic has become a nightmare for Muslims, Available at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).
  5. CIA (2014) CIA World Factbook, Available at: 8th May 2015).
  6. Deger, S. and Sen, S., 1983. Military expenditure, spin-off and economic development. Journal of development economics, 13(1), pp.67-83.
  7. Elshinnawi, M. (VOANews) (2015) Economic Issues Plague the Arab SpringAvailable at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).
  8. Perlo-Freeman, S., 2017. SIPRI’s New Long Data-set on Military Expenditure: The Successes and Methodological Pitfalls. Defence and Peace Economics, pp.1-18.
  9. Smith, D. (The Guardian) (2014) South Sudan marks first anniversary of civil war, Available at: (Accessed: 8th May 2015).

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