Infographic: Where all that American aid money goes

Editor’s note: This is a post shared with permission from HowMuch.Net and the author Raul Amoros. Spoiler alert: The answer to the question below is, mostly, it goes to Israel and mostly not to fight poverty and inequity but for geopolitical purposes. 

The U.S. Spends $35 Billion Helping Out The World… But Where Does All this Money Really Go?

The United States provided approximately $35 billion in economic aid to over 140 countries* in fiscal year 2014. In the map below the relative size of each country is proportionate to the aid received from the United States and the color of each country indicates GDP per capita. (Click on the image below to make bigger and more readable.)

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How was this aid distributed?

Clearly, not all aid is distributed equally. The question is: Who received the largest slice of the pie from the U.S.? From the map above, the answer is clear: Israel.  

Of the $35 billion of total economic aid distributed, almost a quarter of funds went to five countries.  Below are the top 5 recipients of economic aid in 2014.

  • Israel: $3.1 billion

  • Egypt: $1.5 billion

  • Afghanistan: $1.1 billion

  • Jordan: $1.0 billion

  • Pakistan: $933 million

At first glance, one may wonder why Israel would receive roughly 9% of U.S. economic aid. It is important to note that foreign aid has a variety of uses depending on the current political, economic, and social climate. According to the U.S. State Government 2013-2015 Foreign Assistance report, all $3.1 billion of Israel’s funding was used for military financing.  In Egypt, $1.3 billion of $1.5 billion received was used for military-related activities as well.  On the other hand, the majority of funds received by Afghanistan, Jordan, and Pakistan were used for economic development purposes.  Of the $35 billion referenced in the report, $8.4 billion (24%) was used towards global health programs, $5.9 billion (17%) was used for foreign military financing, $4.6 billion (13%) was used for economic support, and $2.5 billion (7%) was used for development assistance.  Below is a breakout of aid received by geographic region in fiscal year 2014.

  • Africa: 20%

  • East Asia and Pacific: 2%

  • Europe and Eurasia: 2%

  • Near East: 20%

  • South and Central Asia: 7%

  • Western Hemisphere: 4%

  • General Aid: 45%

With 142 countries receiving aid out of the 188 countries listed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2014, approximately 76% of the world received some form of economic assistance from the U.S., the majority located within Africa and the Near East.  Depending on future geopolitical events, this allocation is subject to change; however, according to the federal government’s 2015 estimates, the approximate $33 billion requests in aid follow a similar geographic allocation.  Nonetheless, in the past three years, the economic support from the U.S. will have impacted a large majority of the world’s population, totaling $103 billion in economic support across various programs.

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  • Alexander Popivker

    As far as I know, there is more funding for humanitarian aid than there is for military aid. This map just shows that Israel gets more aid than others. Most aid to Israel is military aid. Afghanistan gets a similar amount and that’s why I would like to see what data is used in creating this map which seems to have an agenda in singling out Israel. Aside from not being accurate according to what I find it distorts information. Just because Israel gets a lot of military funding doesn’t mean that much more US money is spent on humanitarian efforts as well.