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research expenditures | nations' decline | market-led research | military spending | technology gap | tech. gap/GDP | ICT revolutions | biotechnologies | GM seeds | nanotechnologies | USA | Japan | Europe | India | China


source: www.sgr.org.uk/ArmsControl/



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Globally, military spending on R&D has been declining since the end of the Cold War. However, the military sector, especially in the UK and USA, has a very large and disproportionate effect on science, engineering and technology (SET)...
  • in OECD-member countries, defence R&D spending has remained at a high level: only about 18% below the level at the end of the Cold War. As a proportion of total budgetary appropriations for R&D, the amount spent on defence declined from 37% to 30% between 1990 and 1998. However, the modernisation of weapons technology remains a high priority in some key countries; (1)

  • current military thinking is based predominantly upon the idea of security through the superiority of military force, and marginalizes broader concepts of security based on social justice and environmental sustainability. This affects which areas in SET are funded by the military;

  • military spending on equipment procurement and R&D not only can divert resources from, for example, health or poverty alleviation programmes, but can also contribute to arms proliferation and refugee crises globally;

  • new weapons technology development is increasingly based on commercially developed civilian technology. Private-sector R&D has also been stimulated both by the peace dividend and the reuse of formerly military expertise, R&D institutions, and of persons with knowledge relevant to civilian applications. The reorientation of military research and development has predominantly been shaped by the private sector and where this sector is weak, as in Russia, reemployment of military R&D resources has been limited;

  • military support of emerging technologies such as the nanotechnologies is high (especially in the USA). This imposes barriers to full public scrutiny of these technologies and colours the public perception of the potential usefulness of such technologies;

  • the United States is by far the largest spender on military R&D in the world, accounting for almost 2/3 of the global total. (In 2004, the USA alone accounted for over 44% of the world military expenditure and continues to increase its share);

  • with the end of the Cold War, the combined military expenditure of Russia and other successor states of the USSR fell dramatically. In 1997 it was around one-tenth of that of the USSR in 1988. The 1996 defence budget of the Russian Federation allotted about US$19 billion, of which about 16% was allocated to acquisitions, and 7.3% (about US$1.4 billion), was earmarked for R&D. By comparison, the 1996 United States budget for the Department of Defense totalled US$249 billion, of which US$34 billion (13.7%) was designated for R&D; (2)

  • according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures, the USA invests around 0.48% of its GDP into defence-related R&D - more than twice the proportion allotted by the UK or France;

  • it is instructive to compare US spending with that of other Western countries. This comparison highlights a dramatic difference: whereas the US spends more than half of his federal R&D funds in weapons, two of US major competitors, Germany and Japan, spend less than 5% in this area. (Currently each US citizen spends about $1,400 of his money each year in buying weapons for his/her government, which is more than 10 times that of any citizen of any other country in the world.); (3)

  • according to the Caltech Progressive Coalition, for almost four fiscal years (1997-2000), the destructive program entitled "weapons activities" has had its funding increased US$525 million (36%),at the expense of programs like "environmental restoration and waste management," which has been cut by US$90 million (45%) during the same period; (4)

  • in the European Union, the UK, France, Spain and Germany accounted for 97% of the total government military research budget in 2000;

  • the United Kingdom is 2nd highest funder of military R&D after USA. A report, published in 2005 by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), affirms that in 2003/04 nearly 1/3 of UK public funding of R&D (currently approximately £2.6 billion – about US$4.7 billion) is spent by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), while 40% of government scientists and technologists work for the MoD; (5)

  • in 2000, Japan was one of the only OECD countries to record a steady increase in defence budget R&D as a percentage of GDP. But it is starting at a low base, since among large OECD countries Japan remains towards the bottom of the ladder with a ratio of only 0.03% of GDP allocated to defence R&D, or 5.8% of aggregate R&D spending;

  • despite a dramatic decline during the last three decades, Israel’s share of resources allocated to defence is still 3 times higher than that of the US or major European countries (in 2002, 9.2% of GDP). It was estimated that during the 80’s, 65% of the national expenditure on R&D (or 3.1% of GDP) were defence related, while only 13% were oriented towards civilian industries. About half the scientists and engineers employed in the industrial sector worked in defence industries; (6)

  • military R&D efforts have not been monopolised by the most advanced industrialised countries. Among the developing countries, nations such as Brazil, China, and India have strengthened their manufacturing potential at the same time as their ambitions to build up an independent armaments industry, and even their own nuclear and space facilities;

  • the size and rate of growth of China’s military budget can be only roughly estimated. Most experts seem to agree that Chinese military spending has increased significantly over the past decade, perhaps by as much as 50%. Estimates of China’s current military budget generally range from roughly US$40 billion to US$90 billion a year. Trends in Chinese spending on R&D are even more difficult to ascertain. However, a reasonable estimate of current Chinese spending on military R&D might be US$2-5 billion; (7)

  • in India, despite the growth of the private sector, government funding continues to account for nearly 3/4 of the country’s R&D spending. The strategic sectors of defence, space and atomic energy get the biggest chunk of the public R&D expenditure. Their share of the pie rose from 48% in 1994-95 to 52% by 1999-2000. In contrast, agriculture got about 13% of the R&D expenditure in 1999-2000, science, technology and industry about 15%, health nearly 9% and information technology a little less than 3%. (8)

Military Expenditures: Top 10 Countries
countryUS$ billion FY*% GDP FY*
1United States** 370.7 2004 (est.) 3.3 2003 (est.)
2 China 67.49 2004 4.3 2004
3 Japan 45.841 2004 1.0 2004
4 France 45.238 2003 2.6 2003
5 United Kingdom 42.836 2003 2.4 2003
6 Germany 35.063 2003 1.5 2003
7 Italy 28.182 2003 1.8 2004
8 Saudi Arabia 18.0 2002 10.0 2002
9 Korea, South 16,18 2004 2.8 2004
10 Brazil 11.0 2004 1.8 2004

Source: CIA World Factbook, March 2005
* FY: Fiscal Year
** The US military budget request for FY 2006 is $441.6 billion. It does not include items such as money for the Afghan and Iraq wars ($49.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006), or Homeland Security funding ($41.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006), for example.

Note: dollar figures for military expenditures should be treated with caution because of different price patterns and accounting methods among nations, as well as wide variations in the strength of their currencies .

(1) www.unidir.ch/pdf/articles/pdf-art137.pdf

(2) www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/mo-budget.htm

(3) “2006 R&D Budget: Bush's Predictable Priorities”, 2 March 2005. Online at: www.epinions.com/content_4276854916

(4) James G. Ingalls (with members of the Caltech Progressive Coalition), “Should Scientists Support High Tech Warfare?”, 17 January 2000.Online at: www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~progress/articles/ji_hitech.html

(5) Scientists for Global Responsibility, Chris Langley, “Soldiers in the Laboratory: Military involvement in science and technology - and some alternatives”, 19th January 2005. Online at: www.sgr.org.uk/ArmsControl/Soldiers_in_Lab_Report.pdf

(6) econ.haifa.ac.il/~dpeled/papers/ste-wp4.pdf

(7) In considering recent Chinese military spending, it is important to remember that it is building from an extremely low base. Even today, Chinese spending on weapons procurement and military R&D pales in comparison to Soviet spending in these areas during the Cold War. Source: Steven Kosiak, “CSIS Train Wreck Is Off Track”, published 03/28/2000. Available at: www.csbaonline.org/4Publications/Archive/B.20000328.CSIS__

(8) Globally, Indian government’s R&D expenditure rose from Rs. 7,479 crores in 1994-95 to Rs. 14,164 crores in 1999-2000. Even in dollar terms (which would compensate for inflation), there had been an increase from US$2.49 billion to US$3.15 billion. Source: N. Gopal Raj, “India’s technology priorities”, The Hindu, Chennai, November 01, 2001.Online at: biiss.org/nuclear/Nov2001/02.htm
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