Data

Armed forces personnel as a share of the total labor force

What you should know about this indicator

Armed forces personnel are active duty military personnel, including paramilitary forces if the training, organization, equipment, and control suggest they may be used to support or replace regular military forces. Labor force comprises all people who meet the International Labour Organization's definition of the economically active population.

Limitations and exceptions: Data exclude personnel not on active duty, therefore they underestimate the share of the labor force working for the defense establishment. Governments rarely report the size of their armed forces, so such data typically come from intelligence sources. Unless otherwise indicated, reserves includes all reservists committed to rejoining the armed forces in an emergency, except when national reserve service obligations following conscription last almost a lifetime.

Statistical concept and methodology: Military data on manpower represent quantitative assessment of the personnel strengths of the world's armed forces. The numbers are based on the most accurate data available to, or, on the best estimate that can be made by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) at the time of its annual publication. The IISS collects the data from national governments.

Armed forces personnel comprise all servicemen and women on full-time duty (including conscripts and long-term assignments from the Reserves). Reserve describes formations and units not fully manned or operational in peacetime, but which can be mobilized by recalling reservists in an emergency. IISS estimates of effective reservist strengths on the numbers available within five years of completing full-time service, unless there is good evidence that obligations are enforced for longer. Although paramilitary forces whose training, organization, equipment and control suggest they may be used to support or replace regular military forces, they are not included in the armed forces personnel. Home Guard units are counted as paramilitary.

Data are shown as percentage of total labor force. According to International Labour Organization (ILO armed forces occupations include all jobs held by members of the armed forces. Members of the armed forces are those personnel who are currently serving in the armed forces, including auxiliary services, whether on a voluntary or compulsory basis, and who are not free to accept civilian employment and are subject to military discipline. Included are regular members of the army, navy, air force and other military services, as well as conscripts enrolled for military training or other service for a specified period. Excluded are persons in civilian employment of government establishments concerned with defense issues; police (other than military police); customs inspectors and members of border or other armed civilian services; persons who have been temporarily withdrawn from civilian life for a short period of military training or retraining, according to national requirements, and members of military reserves not currently on active service.

Source
Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
1991–2020
Unit
%

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

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Citations

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“Data Page: Armed forces personnel as a share of the total labor force”. Our World in Data (2024). Data adapted from International Institute for Strategic Studies (via World Bank). Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/armed-forces-personnel-of-total-labor-force [online resource]
How to cite this data

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Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

Full citation

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data. “Armed forces personnel as a share of the total labor force” [dataset]. International Institute for Strategic Studies (via World Bank), “World Development Indicators” [original data]. Retrieved June 18, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/armed-forces-personnel-of-total-labor-force