Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

Few issues in global politics are as contentious as foreign aid -how much rich countries should give, in what ways, to whom. For years, it has been a commonplace that U.S. policies are stingy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) routinely ranks the United States far behind its industrialized peers in official development assistance (ODA), measured as a percentage of gross national income (GNI).I An endless parade of critics has implored the government to do more; some suggest that the Bush Administration's support for the Monterrey Consensus, which sets a goal of increasing assistance to 0.7% of GNI, commits it to do more.2 Against these allegations of miserliness, executive officials and certain sympathetic scholars have begun to argue that the published statistics are misleading because they fail to account for individual and corporate philanthropy. What the OECD misses, this argument runs, is the exceptional extent of Americans' private generosity.'

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