Guess Which Country’s Companies Profit Most From War?

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

The United States is at the center of a great colorful pinwheel of death, at least according to the latest infographic from Natalia Bronshtein, a data visualizer who focuses on economic trends and political developments. She has worked to produce an interactive visualization of the world’s top 100 arms-producing companies.

Surprising no one, the United States makes more money on war than any other country. Really, it’s not even close. Using the 2013 arms production database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as her data source, Bronshtein shows that 40 of the top 100 arms-producing companies in the world are based in the United States, with Lockheed Martin and Boeing being the biggest of the bunch. The visualization represents each company as a circle within the larger circle of its nationality — the bigger the radius, the more money the company or country made selling arms.

Of course, not all of Lockheed Martin’s or Boeing’s revenue comes from arms, but Bronshtein has that covered: mouse over any company in her visualization and you can see just how much of that company’s profits came from selling arms. In Lockheed Martin’s case, it’s 78% of total sales, resulting in nearly $3 billion worth of arms profit in 2013 alone. Boeing, comparatively, only made 35% of its money on arms in 2013, but that 35% was big money: Boeing made $4.5 billion in profits in 2013 just from selling arms and weaponry.


After you stop looking at the center of Bronshtein’s data viz, you can see which other countries earn significant money from war: the U.K., France, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and Israel. There are some surprise outliers. Saab in Switzerland, for example, didn’t just make your granddad’s car; it also made 81% of its sales in 2013 from selling arms.

The invisible elephant in Bronshtein’s chart ends up being China, which is missing from the SIPRI database, but it’s doubtful it would bump America down. According to SIPRI, China spent $188 billion to America’s $640 billion on its military in 2013, making it the world’s second most expensive military. If China’s companies are making as much money on arms as its military is spending on them, China still likely wouldn’t be enough to knock America from the top of the list.

Explore Brohstein’s visualization for yourself here.

[via Reddit]

About the author

John Brownlee is a design writer who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can email him at john.brownlee+fastco@gmail.com.

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