Thursday, January 06, 2005

Today's "Stinginess" Briefing

I wish I'd found this a week ago. Daniel Drezner contributes his two mites on the whole stinginess controversy with some pertinent facts and figures. Drezner writes,

I'm on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Global Development's Ranking the Rich exercise, which means I've seen a lot of these debates in the past. So I guess I have a duty to fill the information gap here.

And he does an excellent job of it, too.

Is the United States stingy with disaster relief? Compared to other OECD countries, no.

President Bush was correct in pointing out that the U.S. is the largest provider of "humanitarian relief aid" in terms of total dollars -- in 2003, the U.S. gave $2.478 billion (all figures courtesy of CGD's David Roodman, who plucked them from the OECD's Development Assistance Committee).

Of course, the United States is also the biggest economy, so the raw dollar term doesn't mean that much. What about in per capita terms? Here's the ranking of contries by relief aid per capita per day (in cents, not dollars):

1. Norway 21.04
2. Sweden 11.81
3. Denmark 5.95
4. Switzerland 5.85
5. Netherlands 5.15
6. Belgium 2.94
7. United Kingdom 2.58
8. Finland 2.38
9. United States 2.34
10. France 2.17
11. Canada 2.10
12. Australia 1.93
13. Ireland 1.83
14. Austria 1.23
15. New Zealand 1.18
16. Spain 0.61
17. Germany 0.61
18. Italy 0.42
19. Greece 0.27
20. Japan 0.06
21. Portugal 0.03

Out of the 21 major donors, we're ninth -- hardly stingy, though not the most generous. One could make the case that comparing large economies with Scandanavia or the Benelux states is unfair, because the bigger economies have other public goods functions to fulfill (see Bruce Bartlett for this argument). If you limit the comparison to the G-7 countries, only Great Britain is more generous. Indeed, the most shocking figure in that table is how ungenerous the Japanese have been on this front.

There's much more at this link.


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