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Why Luxembourg Outranks the U.S. When It Comes to Helping Poor Nations (NPR)

December 10, 2015
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The United States spends more on international aid than any other nation — more than $32 billion a year. Yet it has come in near the bottom of a newly released ranking that scores the wealthiest nations according to how much they help the world's poorest people.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the famously generous Scandinavian nations lead the pack — Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada rank fairly high as well. The United States, by contrast, falls 21st out of 27 — just behind Hungary, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.

What gives?

For starters, the Commitment to Development Index doesn't just consider the dollar amount that a country spends on aid. Produced annually by the Center for Global Development, a D.C.-based think-tank, the ranking also factors in benchmarks such as how efficient that aid is and how large a share it represents of the giving country's income. On that last measure, for instance, top-ranking Denmark spends 0.85 percent of its gross national product. The United States spends about 0.18 percent.

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