There is an interesting discussion going on about whether the US is "stingy" in the amount of aid it gives. US official aid is 0.15% of national income. But some commentators are claiming that this understates American generosity, because of substantial flows of private giving. See, for example:
- Replublicans and Conservatives Blog
- Bruce Bartlett’s article
- This article by Susan Raymond on the onPhilanthropy website
The facts are collected by the OECD – you can see them here.The offiical figure for US foreign private aid is $6.3bn (table 13 line 26). This means that US foreign assistance, public and private, was about $22.6 billion in 2003, which is about 0.21% of national income, or one fifth of one percent. In dollar terms, this is by far the largest amount of any country. But as a share of income, only Italy provides a lower amount; and the US is tied with Japan and Greece for second-to-last among the industrialized countries. (The figures quoted by Bruce Bartlett are wrong because they include all US financial transactions including investment, bank lending etc). I am grateful to my colleague Steve Radelet at the Center for Global Development for pointing out that the claims about private giving are overstated.