U.S. ranks poorly in commitment to fight global poverty

Each year the sharp minds at the foggy bottom think tank known as the Center for Global Development release a very cool and easy-to-use metric for evaluating to what extent wealthy countries are truly committed to fighting poverty and inequity in poor countries.

It’s dubbed the Commitment to Development Index and, despite its somewhat boring name, is quite fascinating and enlightening. This year’s authors, Owen Barder and Petra Krylová (both work in CGD’s European office), note that they measure countries not only by how much they spend per capita on foreign aid but also by poverty mitigation efforts within the context of trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology. 

Overall, the United States doesn’t measure up so well even though our leaders like to repeat that we spend more (in total) on foreign aid than any other country. True enough, but as this index shows that’s a bit of a red herring. As the report notes:

“For the third year in a row, Denmark tops the Commitment to Development Index in 2014. Denmark is also the only country which is at or above the average on all seven components. The runners up are Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and Norway. These five countries do well on the index because of their consistently high performance across all policies. … The United States is above average in trade, but below average in every other component.”

Go to their site and explore their interactive graphic and data. The accompanying graphic above is just a screen grab of the tool from CGD’s website.  Below is another way to show the rankings:

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CGD Commitment to Development Index

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.