Military Expenditure Per Capita: Which Countries Spend the Most on Defense Per Person?

For once the U.S. doesn't top this list—and China doesn't even make the top 50.
Military Expenditure Per Capita: Which Countries Spend the Most on Defense Per Person? Newsweek

The U.S. famously spends far more money on its military than any other country, splurging a whopping $610 billion every year. This number dwarfs other countries' military spending—to get some context, you should know that the combined spend of the next seven highest countries is less than that.

Nevertheless, the amount the U.S. spends on defense has fallen from its height in 2010 when it reached $768 billion. In 2017, the world as a whole spent $1.74 trillion on its military, up 1.1 percent.

But budget alone doesn't tell the whole story. The U.S. can afford to spend so much thanks to several factors, including its large population, GDP and per-capita income. Some smaller, less wealthy countries are actually pouring a larger percentage of their income into the military than the U.S.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has created a Military Expenditure Database which tracks the military spending of countries for the period 1949–2017. Using their data, we've compiled this list of the countries with the highest military expenditure per capita—that is, which countries spent the most on the military per citizen, a figure which is known as the 'military burden.'

For once, the U.S. doesn't top this list. China, which has the second-biggest budget for military spending, doesn't even make the top 50, thanks to its enormous population.

Instead, Middle Eastern countries with smaller populations end up footing a large per-person military bill. Their location in a high-conflict region is partly why military expenditure in the Middle East rose by 6.2 percent in 2017. Seven of the 10 countries with the highest military burden are in the Middle East.

Our list reveals which country is inflicting the biggest military burden on its citizens, as well as how much Americans pay out compared with the rest of the world.

See also: The World's Biggest Naval Forces—Number One on the List May Surprise You

Note: SIPRI military expenditure data is based on open sources. Due to lack of economic data, no figures are provided for North Korea.

75. Serbia. Total military expenditure: $731 million. Population: 8.8 million. Military expenditure per capita: $83.2. Andrej Isakovic/AFP