On Sharing NATO Defence Burdens in the 1990s and Beyond


  • The authors greatly appreciate data assistance given by Aaron Birkland. They have also profited from comments provided by Ron Smith. Sandler's research was supported, in part, by a NATO Fellowship. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.


This article investigates NATO burden sharing in the 1990s in light of strategic, technological, political and membership changes. Both an ability-to-pay and a benefits-received analysis of burden sharing are conducted. During 1990–99, there is no evidence of disproportionate burden sharing, where the large allies shoulder the burdens of the small. Nevertheless, the theoretical model predicts that this disproportionality will plague NATO in the near future. Thus far, there is still a significant concordance between benefits received and defence burdens carried. When alternative expansion scenarios are studied, the extent of disproportionality of burden sharing increases as NATO grows in size. A broader security burden-sharing measure is devised and tested; based on this broader measure, there is still no disproportionality evident in the recent past.