2006 Commitment to Development Index Launches

August 14, 2006
I am pleased to announce the release of the 2006 edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year the CDI rates and ranks 21 rich countries on how much their policies help or hurt poorer nations. The CDI assigns scores in seven policy areas (foreign aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology), with the average being the overall score. The idea is to provide a much more comprehensive picture than the usual comparisons of donor nations on how much aid they give. This year, the Netherlands moved into first, mainly because a conservative government in the formerly number-one Denmark has cut aid spending. Japan remains in last place as the country whose government is least engaged with developing countries. As in the past, the G-7 "leading industrial nations" have not led on the CDI; Germany, top among them, is in 9th place overall. Take a look at the spruced-up web site. This year, we brought the animated maps--another way of looking at the CDI results--to the fore. And from the country pages (the "Countries" pull-down menus will take you to them), you can download stand-alone performance reports in English and (in a few days) any major non-English language(s) of the rated countries. The press coverage has been the strongest ever, spanning from Canada to the Netherland to South Africa to Malaysia. See Yahoo! News and Google News for samplings. The Commitment to Development Index is a team project. It was jointly conceived in 2002 and launched in 2003 by CGD and Foreign Policy magazine (read the new FP article). It builds on intellectual contributions from William Cline, Senior Fellow, and Theodore Moran, Non-Resident Fellow, CGD, as well as Michael O'Hanlon at the Brookings Institution, Keith E. Maskus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and analysts at the Migration Policy Institute and World Resources Institute. I designed the component on foreign aid, contributed to those on trade and the environment, and serve as the chief architect. The CDI design itself changed less than any previous year, which I take as a sign of approaching maturity. But there were a few changes:
  • Aid that is meant to improve governance, including peacekeeping-related aid, is now exempted from the governance-based selectivity discount. So a donor is not automatically penalized for trying to improve governance in a low-governance country. Ordinarily, aid to poorly governed countries is discounted most. But governance-related aid now receives a uniform 50% governance discount--compared to the 90% discount it would otherwise get in, say, the DRC or Afghanistan or Liberia. (The aid in question is defined as that in the 15000 series in the DAC purpose code classification.)
  • Coffee imports have been dropped from the environment component.
  • There are a few additions to the investment component, including an across-the-board penalty for policies that make it easy for companies to get around the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. (See Ted Moran's working paper.)
  • For simplicity, and because of poor data, the trade component no longer counts agricultural subsidies in EU countries granted outside the Common Agricultural Policy.
  • There is a new credit in the migration component, suggested by B. Lindsay Lowell (pdf), for countries that charge lower university tuition to foreigners than to nationals, or let them attend free.
  • The definition of fishing subsidy has been narrowed to exclude general services such as the coast guard, which do not obviously increase fishing effort in waters off developing country shores.
But the big picture remains the same: Helping is about more than aid. Aid is about more than quantity--quality matters too. And all countries could and should do better.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.