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Budgetary Priorities in Latin America: Military, Health and Education Spending

Publisher: SIPRI
December, 2011

Military expenditure in Latin America has been increasing rapidly in recent years. In a region still plagued with poverty and inequality, with almost no threat of interstate conflict, some have questioned whether Latin American governments' budgetary priorities reflect their countries' real needs and whether a trade-off is being made between military spending and social spending that could promote development and poverty reduction.

In order to examine whether statistical evidence supports the idea that military spending increases have come at the expense of social spending, this study analyses trends in military, health and education expenditure in the region during the period 1995–2009, and explores what relationship—if any—exists between these trends.


I. Introduction

II. Trends in military, health and education spending in Latin America

III. Statistical evidence of a trade-off between military and social spending?

IV. Countries with high military expenditure in relation to health or education spending

V. Conclusions


Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman is an Associate Senior Researcher at SIPRI.