Confirmed: Defense Spending Creates Fewer Jobs Than Other Types of Spending

George Washington's picture

Washington's Blog.

Yesterday, I pointed out
that a study by one of the leading economic modeling companies shows
that military spending increases unemployment and decreases economic

I have located a paper
by economist Robert Pollin published in 2007 by The Political Economy
Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst -
entitled "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending
Priorities" - which concludes:

We present in Table 1
our estimate of the relative effects of spending $1 billion on
alternative uses, including military spending, health care, education,
mass transit, and construction for home weatherization and
infrastructure repair.

[Click image for larger version]

table first shows in column 1 the data on the total number of jobs
created by $1 billion in spending for alternative end uses. As we see,
defense spending creates 8,555 total jobs with $1 billion in spending.
This is the fewest number of jobs of any of the alternative uses that
we present. Thus, personal consumption generates 10,779 jobs, 26.2
percent more than defense, health care generates 12,883 jobs, education
generates 17,687, mass transit is at 19,795, and construction for
weatherization/infrastructure is 12,804. From this list we see that
with two of the categories, education and mass transit, the total
number of jobs created with $1 billion in spending is more than twice
as many as with defense.

"Military Keynesianism" - the idea that war is the best economic stimulus - is false.

Update: Pollin published an updated version of his paper on October 20, 2009. The abstract summarizes their updated findings:

authors compare the effects of a $1 billion military investment
military and the same investment in clean energy, health care,
education, or individual tax cuts. They show that non-military
investments create a much larger number of jobs across
all pay ranges. With a large share of the federal budget at stake,
Pollin and Garrett-Peltier make a strong case that non-military
spending priorities can create significantly greater opportunities for
decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same
amount of funds with the military.

And here are a chart and table from the updated study: