DATA to Insight

Largest US corporations and their defense contracts

The 2012 January 21 issue of The Economist featured a review of 'state capitalism' proclaiming the benefits of pure capitalism over mixed, for example the currently triumphant Chinese model. This caused me to wonder about US versions of state capitalism and particularly those large corporations that owe much of their income to defense contracts. I used two sources to link the largest corporations with the largest defense contractors.

corporation defense


  1. $100 billion of defense contracts are represented among these 12 firms (of the $244 billion received by the top 100 corporations receiving such money). This is a large amount of money that supports lots of jobs, although it could be argued to have less benefit to the long-term health of the US economy than say infrastructural or educational investments.
  2. The first four corporations are well-known contractors that are clearly heavily dependent on defense dollars; they could be considered examples of 'quasi-state capitalism.' The remaining corporations receive significant amounts of defense spending, although Humana and AmerisourceBergen may not be so well-known.

Original data

A screenshot of the top of the original data table shows them sorted by size of defence contractor. The numbers are shown to the 'exact' dollar and left-justified, making them difficult to compare. And of course the table does not provide each firm's total revenues.

data from

Technical notes

  1. The data were downloaded from the two sites listed below and saved as MS Word documents.
  2. I removed generic 'suffixes' (e.g. 'co., corp., international, intl, group, holdings') that create irrelevant differences between names.
  3. The embedded tables were then used to create worksheets in MS Excel.
  4. Finally the worksheets were read into R and merged by corporation name; those that appeared in both datasets were reported and the 12 largest were used for the stacked horizontal bar chart above.


2011 Largest corporations: Fortune Magazine.
2010 Largest defense contractors: Government Executive