Measuring Arms: Introducing the Global Military Spending Dataset
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Description: Military spending data are used to measure key international relations concepts such as balancing, arms races, the distribution of power, and the severity of military burdens. Unfortunately, missing values and measurement error threaten the validity of existing findings. To address this challenge, we introduce the Global Military Spending Dataset (GMSD). The GMSD collates new and existing expenditure variables from a comprehensive collection of sources, expands data coverage, and, using a latent variable model, fills missing values and generates uncertainty estimates useful for assessing the severity of measurement error. In addition to validating the data, we present several new findings. First, correlations between economic and military power have not decreased, but increased over time. Second, we show historically that military burdens have been highest in Asia, not Europe. Finally, though military burdens fell for all regions over the past several decades, they remain high for the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.