Monday, June 25, 2012 Monday, November 7, 2011
Beyond public and private finance, the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) compiled by the Center for Global Development (where I am a fellow) suggests that rich countries could do better by improving their policies in other areas that profoundly affect global development: trade and migration. Rich countries could help poor countries trade their way to wealth by cutting agricultural subsidies, which tip the playing field against farmers in the developing world. CDI estimates suggest these subsidies amount to a little over $100 billion a year in the United States and a similar amount in the European Union. Divert just four years’ worth of EU agricultural subsidies to pay off pretty much all of Greece’s public debt, and we could stave off a second global financial crisis while helping some of the world’s poorest people all at the same time.

In the United States, this kind of subsidy trimming has long been a political taboo — but in a season of obsessive budget-cutting, it may no longer be. During negotiations over the deficit in July, the While House and Congress were close to agreeing on agriculture subsidy cuts worth around $35 billion over 10 years, and nearly $5 billion in direct payments to farmers may be cut in the 2012 farm bill.

And then, of course, there’s migration. The CDI reports that migration from poor countries to the United States each year amounts to one-third of 1 percent of the U.S. population — that puts it in 15th place out of 22 rich countries. So much for “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” Yet it is increasingly clear that the movement of people is a considerable boon to the economies of both origin and destination countries. So more open borders are another area where rich countries including the United States could benefit considerably from greater generosity to the world’s poorest. Even on this contentious issue, there are signs of some movement on Capitol Hill toward immigration reform, as members of Congress hear from farmers whose crops are rotting in fields as supplies of undocumented labor dry up and firms who can’t find skilled applicants for their jobs. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has suggested new visa programs for both high-skilled and agricultural workers, for example. And presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called for a green card to be stapled to the front of every college diploma awarded to a foreigner.

Making Lemon-aid

Republican politicians in the United States are hellbent on axing international development assistance. But Congress’s budget-cutting mania might actually improve it in other ways.

Monday, February 21, 2011 Saturday, January 29, 2011 Wednesday, January 12, 2011 Tuesday, January 4, 2011 Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Americans appalled at how much we spend on aid, want to spend 10 times more

This chart is courtesy of Ezra Klein (h/t @viewfromthecave and @laurenist), who summarizes the results from a new World Opinion Poll. The 848 Americans polled guessed, on average, that the US spends 25 percent of the budget on foreign aid, but opined that the figure should be about 10 percent. The actual number, as you Aid Watch readers probably know, is less than 1 percent.
The chart will also be interpreted by many as showing that the US should spend more, since many citizens – who have just demonstrated they have no clue what we are currently doing – theoretically have a tolerance for more spending.
I suspect these polls just suggest that most people have a hard time comprehending very large numbers. In fact, public opinion figures on foreign aid correspond closely to another maligned area of federal spending: space exploration. In a 2007 poll, respondents apparently thought 24 percent of federal spending went to NASA, while the real number is also…less than 1 percent.
If this bit of innumeracy is just a natural human failing, perhaps it is related to what’s known in psychological research as the availability heuristic: when a rare event makes a vivid impression, we overestimate its likelihood. Maybe powerful images of earthquake survivors receiving aid in Haiti or a rocket launch remembered from childhood bias us to think these types of events are more frequent, more costly, or more significant in the context of overall spending, than they really are.

Americans appalled at how much we spend on aid, want to spend 10 times more

This chart is courtesy of Ezra Klein (h/t @viewfromthecave and @laurenist), who summarizes the results from a new World Opinion Poll. The 848 Americans polled guessed, on average, that the US spends 25 percent of the budget on foreign aid, but opined that the figure should be about 10 percent. The actual number, as you Aid Watch readers probably know, is less than 1 percent.

The chart will also be interpreted by many as showing that the US should spend more, since many citizens – who have just demonstrated they have no clue what we are currently doing – theoretically have a tolerance for more spending.

I suspect these polls just suggest that most people have a hard time comprehending very large numbers. In fact, public opinion figures on foreign aid correspond closely to another maligned area of federal spending: space exploration. In a 2007 poll, respondents apparently thought 24 percent of federal spending went to NASA, while the real number is also…less than 1 percent.

If this bit of innumeracy is just a natural human failing, perhaps it is related to what’s known in psychological research as the availability heuristic: when a rare event makes a vivid impression, we overestimate its likelihood. Maybe powerful images of earthquake survivors receiving aid in Haiti or a rocket launch remembered from childhood bias us to think these types of events are more frequent, more costly, or more significant in the context of overall spending, than they really are.

Saturday, September 18, 2010 Wednesday, May 12, 2010
As better access to medication slowly turns HIV from a death sentence into a chronic disease, one might think that the shame associated with its impacts—emaciation, infirmity, death—would start to fade. That may yet happen in Uganda, but it hasn’t so far. Indeed, in some respects, the shame has only grown. In part, that’s Bush’s other African legacy: the flood of anti retroviral drugs has been accompanied by a rising emphasis on a rigid morality. Until 2008, the U.S. AIDS plan contained an explicit requirement that one-third of the resources dedicated to preventing new infections be directed toward programs promoting abstinence. The Ugandan government, which once tackled the disease head-on with blunt advice on condoms and slogans like “zero grazing,” has purged explicit images from AIDS-education materials. Illustrations depicting correct condom use have disappeared, supplanted by material on “ethics, morals and cultural values.” (“For pupils, sex leads to great sadness,” reads one snippet.) “Instead of understanding the disease as a public-health crisis,” said Joseph Amon, the director of Health and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch, “it became understood as a test of moral character.” The Scarlet Letters: HIV and Adolescence in Africa
Thursday, February 25, 2010 Friday, January 29, 2010
abbyjean:

world aid to haiti, bubble size is dollars per capita GDP. click thru for interactive version.

abbyjean:

world aid to haiti, bubble size is dollars per capita GDP. click thru for interactive version.

Google Analytics Alternative