Julie Walz from the Center for Global Development talks about the organization’s latest report, which ranks countries by their commitment to aid and development.
Though there is clearly a debate about the effect that aid has on development, there is no doubt that developed countries affect developing ones not just with aid, but trade, investment, migration and other policies. Using a series of quantitative measures on seven dimensions, we find that the Scandinavian countries, once again, lead the rich in development-friendly policies. Sweden is top, followed by Denmark and Norway. Only three of the seven G20 nations –- Canada, the United States, and Germany –- were ranked in the top 15 (out of 22).
Where does the United States fall? Right in the middle, at number 11. This is an increase from previous years, mainly due to our contributions in the security realm (the CDI accounts for both financial and personnel contributions to internationally sanctioned operations — thus, Afghanistan is counted, Iraq is not). As in past years, the United States also scored well in the trade component, due to tariffs and subsidies on agricultural products that are low by the standards of its peers (which unfortunately isn’t saying much).
But we lag dramatically behind in other areas. Foreign aid is a small share of our income. A large percentage of that aid is tied. We have low gas taxes and some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions and fuel production rates per capita. We export arms to poor and undemocratic governments.
What is the importance of this ranking? Following the US midterm elections and growing pressure on the federal budget, our foreign aid may be cut. But as the CDI shows, development is about more than aid and aid is about more than quantity—quality of our aid dollars matters too.
As my colleague Sarah Jane Staats writes, it’s possible that budget pressures will lead to other reforms and perhaps progress on other issues such as trade. In fact, here’s a very specific list of 20 steps the United States can take to make our policies more development-friendly, and maybe one day get our CDI score up to No. 1 — something I suspect that ONE could get behind!
- Julie Walz, Center for Global Development