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One Year after G8 Summit on Extreme Poverty


Foreign Policy Magazine writes:
Each year the Center for Global Development and FOREIGN POLICY look past the rhetoric to measure how rich-country governments are helping or hurting poor countries. How much aid are they giving? How high are their trade barriers against imports such as cotton from Mali or sugar from Brazil? Are they working to slow global warming? Are they making the world’s sea lanes safe for global trade?
The Netherlands wins this year's competition, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Germany ranks at the 9th place and the United States at the 13th. Japan lost again.
The
British Times two months ago, that little has improved since last year's G8 summit on Africa and the Make Poverty History campaign due to leadership failures and aid cuts:
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, is to chair an international group set up by Tony Blair to monitor pledges made to help Africa at last year’s G8 summit, the Prime Minister will announce today. Bob Geldof, the Live8 organiser, and President Obasanjo of Nigeria will also be on the Africa Progress Panel, which will be funded by Bill Gates.
The Atlantic Review wrote about the magnitude of poverty and a popular myth:
Around 29,000 under-fives die every day from causes that are easily prevented, such as diarrhoeal dehydration, acute respiratory infections, measles and malaria. According to a poll, most Americans believe that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.
Related post: Fair trade and more aid.

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Bill on :

Ethan Zuckerman wrote a post about the FP/CGD 4th Annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI) and the related article at Foreign Policy Magazine "The FP Index: Ranking the Rich". You can find Ethan's post at his blog My Heart's in Accra using the following URL: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=943 In the comments section to Ethan's post, yours truly pointed out that the U.S. rated Nr.3 only behind Spain and the U.K. in Performance over Time 2003-2006 (the CDI was first published in 2003) and we were joined by one of the authors of the report, David Roodman of the Center for Global Development, who offered more insight into how the report is put together. I strongly advise your readers interested in sustainable economic development policies for poor countries to checkout this 4tj FP/CGD CDI report and the associated online resources. Ethan Zuckerman is one of the co-founders of Global Voices Online together with former CNN bureau chief for Asia Rebecca MacKinnon. Global Voices Online is a pioneering weblog project based at Harvard University Law School - Berkman Center for Internet and Society. GVO is THE community where many fine blog authors and readers from around the world hang out and exchange ideas and opinions.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thank you, Bill. [url]http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=943[/url] is indeed an interesting post by a great blogger. You write: [i]the U.S. rated Nr.3 only behind Spain and the U.K. in Performance over Time 2003-2006[/i] That sounds a bit confusing. The US is [b]not[/b] the top 3 country for the 2003-2006 time period. Rather: The US has improved its policies a lot during that time and therefore is ranks among the top 3 countries who have improved their aid the most. So the good news is: The US is improving its policy more than Germany. That's great. It would be really great, if all countries would compete more. Being the number one country in helping the poor should be more prestigous than winning the soccer world cup. Like in soccer, the US has a long way to go since the US is so far still on the 13th rank in helping the poor.

rightwingprof on :

Foreign aid is a sewer. It does not work. One quarter of one percent is too much to spend on foreign aid.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Did you read the articles I linked to? If you had done so, you would have learned for example: "Aid has proven particularly effective in boosting health and education, which improved markedly around the world during the last four decades. In developing countries, life expectancy at birth increased from 43 to 59 years between 1960 and 2002, and infant mortality rates fell from 147 to 79 per thousand. Although aid was not the most significant contributor to these trends, many analysts believe it played a key role. The United States could unquestionably increase the effectiveness of its aid by reducing bureaucratic overhead, increasing coordination with other donors, and aiming fewer funds at corrupt or incompetent governments." If you are really a "right wing professor", then please read the links and substantiate your claims with some relevant links, as it is custom for academics. Thank you very much!

rightwingprof on :

Really? You disingenuously cited that idiotic ranking, which fails (of course) to take into account the huge amount of charity Americans give each year, no doubt because you just can't imagine anything but a big central government doing anything. The ranking is crap. Americans gave more in private charity to tsunami relief than all the UN nations put together. There is nothing in any of your aritlces that indicates that foreign aid is in fact responsible for one single improvement in the third world, particularly given the time frame. The US gives more to the third world than all other countries combined when you count the billions in charity each year. At least that money isn't handled by corrupt UN agencies, local governments and tribal chiefs. If you want to support your case, let's see the raw data.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks for responding! I had linked to an article by Steven Radelet, who is senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and was deputy assistant secretary of the treasury from 2000 to 2002. He writes about popular myth like the one you mentioned: "“America Is the Most Generous Country in the World if You Include Private Donations to Charities.” No. Americans certainly rise to the occasion in times of crisis, as the outpouring of charitable giving to tsunami victims demonstrated. According to U.S. government figures, private donations to low-income countries through American churches, charities, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and college scholarships was at least $6.3 billion in 2003. And such data almost certainly understate the actual amount of private aid. Some organizations do not respond to the government survey used to collect the data, and some important forms of contribution are omitted, such as volunteer time. Alternative estimates vary, with the upper-end figure (including gifts to more developed countries such as Israel and Russia) at $17.1 billion for 2000. By this estimation, private charitable donations per American total $58 per year—or about 0.16 percent of U.S. income—ranking the United States second among major donors in private giving (the first is Ireland at 0.22 percent). Combining public and private donations puts total U.S. development assistance in the range of $35 billion per year, or about 0.32 percent of U.S. income. In other words, for every $3 of income, the United States provides about one cent in development assistance. Even with this broader measure (and using the larger estimate of U.S. private assistance without making a similar adjustment for other countries), the United States ranks, at best, 15th among the top donors." http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2773&print=1

JW-Atlantic Review on :

About the myth: "Foreign Aid Has Actually Done Very Little to Help Development." I give you again President Bush's previous deputy assistant secretary of the treasury : "Wrong. In 1947, U.S. Sen. Robert Taft famously described U.S. support for the International Monetary Fund as "pouring money down a rathole." Former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms claimed foreign aid only “lined the pockets of corrupt dictators, while funding the salaries of a growing, bloated bureaucracy.” A great deal of assistance has certainly been wasted over the years, particularly aid provided for political rather than developmental purposes. Corrupt governments pocketed some of the funds, while the United States and the Soviet Union showered money on proxy states during the Cold War with little regard for how it was spent. But aid has successfully supported development in many other countries, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Botswana, and, more recently, Uganda and Mozambique. Although economists still debate the evidence, a growing body of research links increased aid with enhanced growth. One recent study found that every dollar in growth-oriented aid added $1.64 on average to the incomes of recipient countries." [url]http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2773&print=1[/url]

Don on :

An interesting piece, Joerg. At first I was inclined to be skeptical reading the paragraph you quoted. I read the whole thing and think I pretty much agree with him. One point which stuck out was how much damage the US farm aid program does to poor people. I believe the EU's CAP does even more damage despite recently having been reformed to reduce the impact somewhat. That article and a few things I read over on Medienkritik brought another thought to mind. It is a common assumption on both sides of the Atlantic that the European model of social justice (of dealing with the poor) is far suprior to that in the US. That thesis is supported by raw measures such as aid given to poor countries as a proportion of national GDP given as foreign aid and measurements of the poverty rate. But is that actually true? On the foreign aid question; Radelet argues the negative effects of US farm subsidies far outweigh the positive effects of US foreign aid. Radelet arrives at a US aid figure of 0.32% of GDP once private aid is figured in (not far off the EU average I believe). Perhaps we can assume that the negative effects of US farm programs are triple that of positive aid. Round it up to a negative effect of 1.0% of US GDP. Now let's look at the EU. I'm not sure what an EU-wide aid figure might be, but don't think 0.40% is too low. It might be generous. For many years the CAP was reckoned to be 'far worse' than US farm programs. I've heard estimates ranging from 50% to 100% worse so let's take the midpoint and call CAP 75% worse for a negative effect of 1.75% of GDP. Doing the math: US 0.32 - 1.00 = (0.68%) net effect EU 0.40 - 1.75 = (1.35%) net effect But that is a historical number and the CAP has been reformed. The accounts which I've read is that the reform was a relatively small one. I'll be generous and assume the CAP is now only 50% worse than the US programs. That would make the current picture appear: US 0.32 - 1.00 = (0.68%) net effect EU 0.40 - 1.50 = (1.10%) net effect Hmmmm. By that calculation average EU aid levels would have to rise to 0.82% of GDP to reduce the negative effect even to the lamentable levels achieved by the US. Even after CAP reform! Perhaps I haven't been generous enough to the EU countries. But thes calculations show how much of a drag having a really bad farm program can be (as opposed to a merely bad one). Even if European positive aid were 50% more than those achieved by the US (0.50% versus 0.32%) the net effect would remain -0.68% (US) versus -1.00% (EU). The French really ought to doff that cute little set of angel wings they have been wearing, no? Now let's look at domestic poverty. Meidienkritik provides two interesting pieces of data about relative poverty levels. The first measures incomes of the poorest and richest 10% of the populations as a percent of the US median income using the PPP (which measures standard of living rather than monetary data which can mislead: http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2006/08/rich_and_poor.html The results are interesting. As expected the richest 10% in the US do better than any other country listed. The poorest 10% in the US receive 39% of the median income in the US. This compares to 41% in Germany and Nederlands, 43% in France, Belgium, and Denmark. Shockingly Sweden and Finland come in at 38% of US nedian income and the UK an even more shocking 35%! Only Switzerland and Norway (with it's oil wealth) did notably better than that. Given all the talk in the EU of going to the 'Scandanavian model' of economic development this is surprising. Perhaps they should think again? The Swiss seem to be getting things right despite having the second worse relative income disparity in the table. Medienkritik provides more useful data here: http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2006/09/spiegel_online_.html Page past RayD's fulminating against jouralist Marc Pitzke to read about the poverty rate in the US (12.6%) and Germany (13.9%). Joerg of AW provided data from the Economist (bravo Joerg!): http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=7853537&fsrc=RSS

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks, Don. US agricultural policy is better for the world's poor than the EU's agricultural policy. Or shall we say: "doing less harm"? Have a look at the very first link in this post, which recommends a study that looks how the rich countries policies on Aid, Trade, Investment, Migration, Environment, Security Technology affect the poor. The US gets a better score than Germany for its trade policies (in which agriculture plays a huge role), but the US overall score is worse than Germany's.

Don on :

Definately the latter, Joerg. US farm subsidies are quite a bit 'less bad' even today. But they are still pretty bad. Another problem the EU has is it's aversion to GM. That is OK by itself but it has been used by many in the EU to discourage poor countries to forego a major tool which could be used to fight hunger in their own countries. The problem is that using this tool could be done only at the cost of being unable to export to the EU. And EU officials have warned certain countries against accepting aid from the US because it is 'tainted' by GM; was this helpful? I think not. The hell of it is that removing farm subsidies ought to be a no-brainer for the US and the EU. Not to mention Japan, the worst culprit by a considerable length. Rich world taxpayers and consumers would profit by lower taxes and food prices; the developing world would profit by the opening of rich country markets for their farmers. A classic win-win.

Don on :

Joerg, I read that report again. It mostly seems OK but there are a couple of areas which seem a little dubious to me. Specifically Environment and Technology. Technology because it's not defined as far as I can tell, and France is the only nation with a top score. A score which is the only thing preventing France from falling to Greek levels on that table. French failures on this index have not served to blunt the tone of French criticism - of the US. Au contraire! Commendable of them I am sure. I wonder whether their self-criticism is quite as trenchant? Envionmentalism is another somewhat dubious category because it equates a 'benefit' which would be realised only in the distant future and the extent of which is very debatable. Remove it or de-emphasise it as a measurement in favor of other categories which offer concrete and measureable benefits in the here and now and what happens? Most European countries drop like a rock on this survey and the US rises, does it not? Germany significantly out-does the US in Environment and Migration (how is that?) but is significantly beaten in Trade and Security. Another experiment is to take the subset of large nations from that group and compare them. This could be justified on the grounds that smaller countries do not face the same challenges or the same responsibilities as the larger ones do. Among this subset of large countries Germany comes first with the US second, followed by Spain, France, Italy, and Japan. Moreover the US record of improvement the past few years (under the loathsome Bush) is second only to Spain, while Germany actually seems to have fallen back under the admirable Schroeder. Hmmm, something is wrong here. No? ;)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Responsible for the ranking are Foreign Policy and the Center for Global Development. Both are American. The Center for Global Development has some more background on the components: [b]Environment:[/b] "The environment component looks at what rich countries are doing to reduce their disproportionate exploitation of the global commons. Are they reining in greenhouse gas emissions? How complicit are they in environmental destruction in developing countries, for example by importing commodities such as tropical timber? Do they subsidize fishing fleets that deplete fisheries off the coasts of such countries as Senegal and India?" [url]http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/cdi/_components/environment/[/url] [b]Technology[/b] "One important way that rich countries affect poorer ones over the long run is through technology transfer. For example, with medical technology from the rich countries, human health and survival in Latin America and East Asia made gains over four decades during the 20th century that took Europe almost 150 years. Today, the Internet is facilitating distance learning, democracy movements, and new opportunities to participate in the global economy." [url]http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/cdi/_components/technology/[/url] Click on the links for a bit more info on the components. The ranking isn't perfect. No ranking ever is. The US scores high on security, but I fail to see how Chad, Rwanda, Botswana etc. have benefited from US security policies... (A [b]small[/b] and not very important point: On the contrary, the US military is using a lot of oil (I read somewhere that the US military is using as much oil as Greek) => high oil prices => poor countries need to spend more money on oil, i.e. the more international security the US is trying to provide, the more these countries need to spend on oil...) Anyway, the above links give you more info on all the components, incl. security. You might say, US security policy (incl. Iraq) is having long term benefits for the third world. Yes, hopefully. If you look long-term for security policies, you should also look long-term for environmental policies. Climate change could cause a lot of damage to third world countries, especially those at sea level etc. Think Katrina. And yes, climate change is real. Most scientists agree, even those who made studies for various US government agencies. Sorry, but I trust scientists more than conservative bloggers.

Don on :

I went and read the explanations. I disagree with you; these are quite perfect as a reflection of a certain point of view. A point of view which would work as well in Dodson's "Beyond the Looking Glass" as in the real world. Arguably better. Technology is a good example. An example: "intellectual property rights (IPRs) that can inhibit the international flow of innovations. Some countries, for example, allow patenting of plant and animal varieties. In such countries, a company could develop a crop variety, say, that thrives in poor tropical soils, patent it, and then opt not to sell it because the poor who could use it have inadequate buying power." Perfectly true. But I have a two questions. 1) What company in it's right mind would ever do something like htis? 2) Is it unthinkable that a government could behave in this manner? The authors clearly approve of government-funded R&D because they award France top points on the basis that France spends 1% of GDP on government funded R&D. Never mind that France (like most of the rest of the EU is hemmorraging research scientests (who typically emigrate to the US). Surely an indication a generous funding of R&D in the US and a shortage in Europe? Airbus R&D counts - Boeing doesn't. Ermmmmm. Not on this table it isn't! No, the US barely makes the 25th percentile - on this list if no other. Japan places very high on the list for similar reasons, richly funding that feckless 'Fifth Generation computing' project and other trophy projects. How much do you fancy "Chad, Rwanda, Botswana etc" benefit from Airbus and "Fifth Generation", Joerg? Obviously the authors think quite a lot! ;)

rightwingprof on :

And any ranking that is not raw numbers, but percentage of GDP, is crap. Only the amount of money counts. Ranking by percentage of GDP is nothing more than a way for countries with sad economies to make themselves feel better.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Only the amount of money counts." Fine. Just compare the amount of EU and the US aid. Read the articles we linked to and you find the raw data.

Seven Star Hand on :

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