Industrialized Countries - Progress and Disparity

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Is aid heading for extinction?

For the fifth straight year, aid for development provided by industrialized countries has declined, slipping to $55.5 billion in 1996, a decrease of 4% in real terms from 1995 and down by 16% from the highest aid level, in 1992. In fact, at the present rate of decline, official development assistance (ODA) would cease to exist by 2015.

This trend jeopardizes a commitment by donor countries to close gaps between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' within and between countries. Donor countries pledged to achieve by 2015 a 50% reduction in the number of people, currently 1.3 billion, living in absolute poverty -- on a dollar a day or less.

ODA as a proportion of donor countries' GNPs, a measure of their ability to provide aid, fell to an average of 0.25% in 1996, compared to 0.34% in 1990. That is the lowest proportion since 1970, when the aid target of 0.7% of donors' GNPs was agreed upon.

Only four countries -- Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden -- consistently allocate more than the target. Denmark topped the list in 1996, allotting 1.05% of its GNP for aid, while the United States ranked lowest, giving 0.12%.

Aid: Going, going...
  Amounts (in 1996 $)
  ODA as % of donor nations' GNP Total aid
($ billion)
Aid per person ($) Change per person ($)
  % 1996 % 1990 1996 1996 since 1990
Denmark 1.05 1.03 1.8 338 66
Sweden 0.88 0.99 2.0 227 -23
Norway 0.87 1.23 1.3 302 -9
Netherlands 0.80 0.98 3.2 208 1
France 0.49 0.65 7.5 128 -26
Luxembourg 0.44 0.23 0.1 199 106
Belgium 0.34 0.57 0.9 90 -24
Finland 0.34 0.65 0.4 80 -79
Canada 0.32 0.43 1.8 60 -22
Germany 0.32 0.36 7.6 93 -8
Switzerland 0.32 0.34 1.0 142 2
Australia 0.31 0.33 1.1 62 -1
Ireland 0.29 0.17 0.2 50 33
United Kingdom 0.28 0.28 3.2 55 6
Austria 0.24 0.27 0.6 69 3
New Zealand 0.22 0.22 0.1 34 -2
Portugal 0.22 0.31 0.2 22 0
Spain 0.22 0.22 1.3 32 5
Italy 0.21 0.35 2.4 42 -20
Japan 0.18 0.29 9.4 75 -26
United States 0.12 0.21 9.4 35 -17
Average 0.25 0.34 Total $55.5 Avg. $68 -$15

Source: OECD, Development Co-operation (1997 report), 1998.

Denmark also led donors on the basis of aid per person, giving $338 per capita, while Portugal was the lowest per capita donor at $22. Japan and the United States were the largest donors in total dollar terms, each allocating $9.4 billion.

If all donors had met the aid target, annual ODA would be $100 billion above its current level. That amount, over 10 years, would be more than sufficient to ensure that everyone in developing countries had access to basic social services -- including basic education, health care, family planning, adequate nutrition and safe water and sanitation.

 

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