This year we introduce two new metrics. The first is the neighborhood risk score. As the name suggests, the score is an attempt to gauge the regional level of risk around a country. There are several reasons to do this. Experience indicates that regional context enables or amplifies many of the negative consequences from arms sales. The likelihood of negative consequences from a weapons transfer depends not only on the recipient nation but also on what is happening next door. Nations that are near unstable regimes, conflict, and active black markets for weapons are more likely to contribute to diffusion, dispersion, and other negative outcomes—even if their own risk scores are relatively low—than if they had stable neighbors.
The second new metric is the average customer risk score. As the name suggests, the average customer risk score is an easy way to determine how risky the recipient of the “typical” arms sale is in a given year. Calculating this metric allowed us to confirm in this year’s report, for example, that the American arms sales portfolio has gotten riskier since the George W. Bush administration. It also allowed us to illustrate that despite U.S. leadership in arms exports, the average customer of American arms is less risky than the customer of most of the other leading arms exporters. China’s and Russia’s average customers, for example, are significantly riskier than the average U.S. client.
We invite scholars and policymakers to read the report and download the data for further analysis.