UPDATE February 2015
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Revised October 2012
In this working paper, CGD research fellow David Roodman describes the methodology of the foreign aid component of the 2011 edition of the Commitment to Development Index. The Commitment to Development Index ranks 22 of the world’s richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the 5.5 billion people living in poorer nations. Moving beyond standard comparisons of foreign aid volumes, the CDI quantifies a range of rich-country policies that affect poor people in developing countries.
The component on foreign assistance combines quantitative and qualitative measures of official aid, and of fiscal policies that support private charitable giving. The quantitative measure uses a net transfers concept, as distinct from the net flows concept in the net Official Development Assistance measure of the Development Assistance Commit-tee. The qualitative factors are: a penalty for tying aid; a discounting system that favors aid to poorer, better-governed recipients; and a penalty for “project proliferation.” The charitable giving measure is based on an estimate of the share of observed private giving to devel-oping countries that is attributable to a) lower overall taxes or b) specific tax incentives for giving. Despite the adjustments, overall results are dominated by differences in quantity of official aid given. This is because while there is a seven-fold range in net concessional trans-fers/GDP among the scored countries, variation in overall aid quality across donors appears far lower, and private giving is generally small.
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