The Spatial Distribution of Military Spending in the United States 1941‐1985


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The spatial distribution of military expenditures in the United States is a major influence on the regional shifts of economic activity that are occurring in the US. The purpose of this study is to trace the changing spatial distribution of military prime contract awards (MPCAs) from 1941 to 1985. Using T‐mode and S‐mode factor analysis, the results indicate that since 1941 there have been four distinct eras in the spatial distribution of MPCAs. During each era the spatial pattern of military spending remained stable. The shift from one era to another appears to be linked to changes in the type of weapons purchased by the Department of Defense. The most recent era, the High‐Technology Weapons era, has lasted for twenty years. The long‐term stability evident in the spatial distribution of MPCAs supports the argument that military expenditures have played an important role in regional economic development and change. The findings also indicate that, while many states tend to follow the national trend in military spending, there are also four distinct groups of states which have gained and then lost their positions as military production centers. The main reason behind the rapid growth and decline of MPCAs going to these states was their dependence on a single weapons system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-62
Number of pages13
JournalGrowth and Change
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1989


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