NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 27, 2005

Recently, the amount of financial support the United States provides to poor nations has been questioned, but most discussions are distorted by the fact that arguments take into account only the simplest measure of assistance: official government aid, says American Enterprise.

For European and other "rich" nations, government aid is the largest measure of financial support, but for the United States, it is the least important way we help, says AE:

  • American private charities attacking hunger, disease, illiteracy and other humanitarian problems spend three times as much across the globe every year as our government does.
  • We send billions of dollars to poor countries in the form of private investments; these funds create jobs, power plants and farms totaling more than two and a half times our government aid.
  • Additionally, Americans offer up their money and their lives every year to patrol sea lanes and airways, to improve the professionalism of Third World armies and to protect human life directly with our military.

Assuming that one quarter of all U.S. defense spending goes to preserving global peace and stability, then America's cumulative contributions to assist poorer nations looks like this, says AE:

  • Out of $246 billion spent to assist poor people abroad, $114 billion is spent on global security.
  • Private investment in poor countries equals $51 billion.
  • Donations by private charities equal $62 billion, while only $20 billion is supplied by official government aid.

Source: Karl Zinsmeister and Joseph Light, "Indicators: Are Americans Stingy?" American Enterprise, September 2005.


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