Sunday, April 02, 2006

Most generous countries

The March 4-10, 2006 issue of The Economist gives a table of private donations to poor countries by country, as a percentage of GDP (for 2003). The data comes from the OECD, which tracks 22 countries' aid (but only 21 of which are listed). The graph supplied shows the percentage of the giving attributed to tax breaks, which appears to be close to half for the top 14 countries. The top percentage of GDP is 0.20%, for Norway, where somewhere between a fourth and a third is attributed to tax breaks.

The 21 countries, from most to least generous:

1. Norway (0.20%)
2. Ireland
3. Switzerland (just under 0.10%)
4. Netherlands
5. Canada
6. Australia
7. United States (just over 0.05%)
8. Belgium (about 0.05%)
9. Germany
10. Austria
11. Britain (just under 0.025%)
12. Spain
13. France
14. New Zealand
15. Denmark
16. Sweden
17. Finland
18. Japan
19. Portugal (no visible bar on the graph)
20. Greece
21. Italy


Lippard said...

BTW, I don't see any immediately obvious religiosity correlations here, though the top country is one of the least religious and the bottom is one of the most religious. Ireland, the U.S., Portugal, and Italy are the most religious countries on the list; Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Japan are the least religious.

The list of countries from highest to lowest percentage of nonbelievers is Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, Portugal, United States, Ireland (compare to

Unknown said...

Put a dollar amount to those percentages then add the amount from private donations and you'll see the top 9 don't even come close to the first.

Lippard said...

I'm not sure what you're suggesting--the table is specifically private donations.

If we look at just Norway and the United States:

Norway GDP (2006 est. via CIA World Factbook): $213.6 billion.
0.20% of that is $427.2M.

U.S. GDP (2006 est., same source): $13.13 trillion. 0.05% of that is $6.56 billion.

If you're claiming that the countries ranked 2-9 don't give as much as #1 in absolute terms, that's incorrect. The U.S. alone gives many times what Norway does.

sunkler.c said...

Its correct, but the population of Norway is only 4,6 M against US 306 M.

And the main part of US donations are religious.

Lippard said...

sunkler.c: Those are both good points. On a per capita basis, using your population numbers and the absolute dollar numbers from my prior comment, that comes to $92.87 per person per year for Norway and $21.44 per person per year for the U.S. (both averages appear quite pathetic on a per-person basis!).

I'm not sure how strong the religious point is since this is specifically private aid to poor countries, but you're probably right that more of that is going to Bibles from the U.S. dollars than from Norway.

Ken Weaver said...

What you leave out of this equation is the fact that, the US government takes so much from our citizens, and gives it away as foreign aid that, we don't think we need to give much more!
I dare you to come up with figures for combined foreign aid and private donations.

Lippard said...

Ken: This blog post from more than three years ago was really about generosity of individuals in these countries, rather than of their governments. That's why it was limited to private donations, and why the tax break incentive was also accounted for in the graph of the article I referred to.

The fact that the U.S. level of taxation on individuals is significantly lower than the other countries on the list gives some reason to think your speculation is likely to be incorrect, and an examination of per-capita foreign aid by country shows that you are mistaken. While the U.S. is the top provider of foreign aid in absolute numbers, it's nowhere close to number one on a per-capita basis. The InfoPlease website's data for 2002 shows a similar pattern to the private donation list. The per-capita top-to-bottom ordering is Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, France, Finland, United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Canada, United States, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Greece, Japan, Australia.

Once again, the Scandinavians, Dutch, and Swiss are at the top.