A repeat topic during the Trump era, NATO member states’ defense expenditures have been thrust back into the spotlight by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Data published this week by the military alliance shows that defense expenditure as a share of GDP reached a high in 2020 in many countries and decreased starting from 2021 in the course of the coronavirus pandemic and coinciding with the end of the Trump presidency.
While some countries are expected to recover expenditures in 2022, others are projected to further decrease spending as a share of real GDP, including major contributors France, Germany, Italy and Canada. While NATO defense expenditures are higher now than they were in 2014 (in total and as a share of GDP), the 2%-goal set by NATO in 2006 is still not reached in a slew of countries.
This chart shows the estimated military spending of NATO countries in 2014 and 2022 and share of GDP … [+] (in billion constant 2015 U.S. dollars).
Western European nations were most likely to be among those decreasing spending and not reaching the goal. This includes the countries mentioned above as well as the Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Belgium and Denmark.
Eastern European countries, which have long been more attuned to the potential of war returning to the continent, were more likely to reach the 2%-goal. Behind the United States and the U.K., Poland was the biggest defense spender with more than 2% of GDP dedicated to the sector. The country was followed by Greece, Slovakia, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Even the alliance’s newest additions, North Macedonia and Montenegro, have already reached 1.78% and 1.75% of GDP in defense spending, exceeding the results of many long-standing members.
United States’ spending dwarfs the rest
The United States remained by far the largest defense spender in NATO with an expenditure of almost $773 billion when adjusted for inflation ($811 billion in current dollars). The country was followed by the U.K. as the second-largest spender. Despite being the largest contributors, both countries have also seen spending as a share of GDP fall since 2020.
The lowest spending as a share of GDP was observed in Luxembourg at less than 0.6%, while Spain spent just around 1%. Turkey is expected to reach a low of 1.22% in 2022—the same as Slovenia—and recorded one of the biggest dips in spending as a share of GDP. In 2020, the country had still spent 1.86% of GDP on its military, but due to high inflation, the country’s expenditure in real terms is falling quickly despite actually having increased steadily in nominal Turkish Liras.

Charted by Statista

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