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Mexico: Defense Spending
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Defense Spending


The government sets the overall size of the military budget, but the actual allocation of funds to various activities and purchases is largely determined within the defense ministries. Little information is made available on individual expenditure categories.

Because of exchange-rate variations and scarcity of data, it is difficult to establish budgetary trends and annual expenditures on defense. According to The Military Balance, the defense budget for 1996 was 16.6 billion new pesos (NMex$; for value of new peso -- see Glossary), equivalent to US$3.0 billion. This figure compared to budget estimates of 1.577 trillion pesos (US$641 million) in 1989 and 1.908 trillion pesos (US$678 million) in 1990. No explanation was offered as to why the defense budget appears to have more than quadrupled between 1990 and 1996.

Data published by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) show higher levels of spending on defense, which, according to ACDA figures, averaged about US$1.5 billion annually during the decade 1983-93. The peak levels of spending were between 1985 and 1987, when levels of about US$2 billion were recorded. As ACDA notes, data on military expenditures are of uneven accuracy and completeness. In addition to accuracy problems caused by sharp variations in exchange rates, capital spending and arms purchases may be omitted in official data.

Based on data from The Military Balance, military expenditures were 0.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP -- see Glossary) in 1995. Military expenditures amounted to US$17 per capita in that year, reversing a declining trend that saw per capita expenditures drop from US$20 in 1985 to US$13 in 1991. The economic burden of the Mexican military establishment is comparable to the average expenditure for Central American countries.

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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