The independent resource on global security

The Meaning and Measurement of Military Expenditure
Publisher: Almqvist & Wiksell
August, 1973

Military expenditure figures, presented in different ways, have a variety of uses, including the measurement of the economic burden of these expenditures and the assessment of the trend in a nation's military strength. Moreover, the international comparison of military expenditures influences opinion about how much should be spent in the future. And, in military alliances, the relative economic burden of these expenditures between member nations is a frequently discussed, and often contentious, issue.

This report investigates the limitations of the military expenditure data widely employed in these various ways.



Part I. A general discussion

I. Introduction

II. Defining military expenditure

III. The opportunity cost of military expenditure

IV. Military expenditure in real terms

V. International comparisons of military expenditure


Part II. A case study of military expenditures in the United Kingdom, 1949–69

I. The military budget and total expenditure for military purposes

II. The opportunity cost of military expenditure

III. Military expenditure at constant prices

IV. Military expenditure and military capability

V. Sources and methods