Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

Views From The Center Blog


More on the Definition of ODA: Proper Credit for Credits

CGD’s recent publication of my paper on improving the statistical definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) brought me into contact with several people involved with the ongoing review of this issue. (For the history of that process see my previous post.) Those conversations have stimulated my thinking. They have also helped me appreciate that among the questions in play, the hottest is how to count loans in ODA—where “hot” is some blend of complicated and controversial.

I wrote about loans in my last post. But I focused on arguing against factoring the probability of default into the assessed financial value of a loan. Here, I’ll explain some other loan-related recommendations. In another post, I’ll talk about other questions.

The Crisis in Official Development Assistance (ODA) Statistics: Needed Revamp Would Lift Japan, Lower France

Not to be melodramatic, but the official system for counting foreign aid is in crisis. The longstanding mathematical rule determining whether a loan’s interest rate is low enough to qualify it as aid has gone out of sync with the times. The rule’s benchmark interest rate of 10% per year was reasonable when adopted in 1972, but not now. Today, wealthy governments can borrow below 3%, lend a couple percent higher, come in well under the 10% bar, and count the potentially profitable lending as aid.