Putting U.S. foreign aid in perspective

Most Americans vastly overestimate how much the U.S. government spends on foreign aid. In a recent poll, the median answer was that 25% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. In reality it is about 1%. Along with the idea that the U.S. spends massively overseas is the idea that America gives and the rest of the world takes, but in its most recent rankings, the Centre for Global Development places the U.S. #17.

Click on the image below to explore the CGD’s 2011 Commitment to Development Index.

David Roodman, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC, introduces the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks wealthy nations by how much they help poorer ones.

The index is not without flaws in some of the reasoning it applies. For instance, in arriving at its overall rankings (which aggregate aid and other components such as security) the position of the U.S. was boosted this year thanks to Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan. Because the war in Afghanistan has a UN mandate, the CGD dubs it a “peacekeeping” operation!

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1 thought on “Putting U.S. foreign aid in perspective

  1. delia ruhe

    In so many ways, the Swedes appear to know what it costs to be a member nation of the human race. By contrast, the corporate welfare bill in my country is staggering — to the point where we have to let the second- and third-world nations pay our share.

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