DURING WORLD War I defense spending in the United States exploded from less than one percent of GDP in 1915 to a peak of 14 percent in 1919 and then back down to one percent by 1923.
But the data series of Series Y 605-637. Federal Government Expenditure, by Function: 1902 to 1970 in the Census Bureaus Historical Statistics of the United States: From Colonial Times to 1970 only tabulates federal spending for 1913 and 1922, completely missing out on the years of World War I.
But the Census Bureau does publish annual federal government expenditures in another table, Series Y 457-465. Outlays of the Federal Government: 1789-1970. The problem is that the numbers in the two Census Bureau tables dont match up.
|Comparison of World War I Defense Spending|
(millions of dollars)
|Census Bureau Numbers from Series Y 605-637. Federal Government Expenditure, by Function: 1902 to 1970|
|Total national defense||250||875|
|Military services only||245||864|
|Census Bureau Numbers from Series Y 457-465. Outlays of the Federal Government: 1789-1970.|
|Total defense spending||335||347||343||337||618||6,149||11,011||2,358||1,768||935|
|War Dept. spending||202||208||202||183||378||4,870||9,009||1,622||1,118||458|
|Navy Dept. spending||133||139||141||154||240||1,279||2,002||736||650||477|
You can see the problem. The entire war spending effort is missing from the data series that we are using. And in 1913 and 1922 they dont match up.
We chose to fill in the missing numbers by matching the spending numbers from Outlays of the Federal Government: 1789-1970 to the numbers on the incomplete Federal Government Expenditure by Function: 1902-1970. then track the trajectory of the numbers in the Outlays dataset. Here are the results:
|Construction of World War I Defense Spending Dataset|
(millions of dollars)
|Numbers interpolated from Outlay table shown in italic.|
|Total defense & intl||250||265||264||260||544||6,078||10,943||2,292||1,705||875|
We have interpolated values for national defense and for total federal spending by applying the entire Outlays data items to the Expenditures table by adjusting all numbers so that they match the numbers in the Expenditure table for 1913 and 1922.