BICC: Global Militarization Index (GMI) 2012

The Global Militarization Index (GMI) depicts the relative weight and importance of the military apparatus of one state in relation to its society as a whole. For this, the GMI records a number of indicators to represent the degree of militarization of a country:

  • the comparison of military expenditures with its gross domestic product (GDP) and its health expenditure (as share of its GDP);
  • the contrast between the total number of (para)military forces and the number of physicians and the overall population;
  • the ratio of the number of heavy weapons available and the number of the overall population.*

The GMI is based on data from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Institute for Strategic studies (IISS) and BICC. It shows the degrees of militarization of 153 states since 1990. BICC provides yearly updates.

This update of the GMI 20122 is based on data from the year 2011 (i.e. the most recent year for which data has been available) and comprises 135 states3. BICC’s GMI is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Global Militarization: Top Ten

In 2011, Israel, Singapore, Syria, Russia, Jordan, Cyprus, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Saudi-Arabia were amongst the top ten of the GMI4. Six of these ten states are situated in the Middle East. No country in the top ten is in Africa or Latin America. Compared to the year before (2010), some changes have occurred amongst the top ten. South Korea and Greece left, while Bahrain joined the top ten. Azerbaijan, too, entered the top ranks again due to major arms imports and an increase in military spending. Read on


*A more detailed description of the method can be found at: Grebe, Jan. 2011. “The Global Militarization Index
(GMI) – A tool for evaluating development orientation of states as well as regional developments.” Occasional Paper, February 2011, Bonn: BICC.