Allocation of Government Expenditures

El Salvador Table of Contents

The allocation of government spending changed markedly after 1978, mainly as a result of the civil conflict. While expenditures on education and health fell as a share of total government spending, military spending rose dramatically.


The percentage of total government expenditures on the Salvadoran military increased from 6.6 percent in 1972 to 28.7 percent in 1986. Most of this increase was a result of the country's civil conflict and the need to establish and maintain the 59,000-member armed forces and security forces. If one also considers the military's operating expenditures (wages and purchases of goods and services related to national security), military spending increased from 22.2 percent of all government outlays in 1980 to 47.3 percent in 1986.

The huge amounts spent on counterinsurgency were further underscored when one considers foreign military aid; as much as 75 percent of the US$2.5 billion in United States assistance between 1980 and 1986 may have been applied directly or indirectly to the war effort. A study released in late 1987 by the bipartisan Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus of the United States Congress alleged that aid targeted for "stabilization, restoration, and humanitarian needs" was being used instead to repair damage, thus freeing more of the Salvadoran budget for military expenditures. The caucus advocated stricter measures to ensure that aid was used to improve health care, nutrition, and education.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress