Some people have given me a bad time about my “over abundance” of posts on Jeffrey Sachs approach to defeating poverty and my quotes from not-so-centrist New York Times. As I state upfront, I’m not taking a liberal or conservative philosophy to defeating poverty. Rather I’m looking for what works and what scales up to sustainably lift people out of poverty. This is about trying to round-up the facts which can help me (and hopefully, you) make smarter decisions about where to invest your time and resources.
This past week, the Wall Street Journal posted an interesting op-ed piece called American Generosity. They quote research from the Hudson Institute which seeks to quantify the true level of international giving to poor nations by Americans from all sources. They note the often quote official development aid of $19.7 billion from USA government in 2004 is about 25% of the total of at least $90 billion given to the developing world by Americans. The difference is $71 billion donated through schools, religious institutions, companies, foundations and families.
The largest single item is at least $47 billion in remittances “sent home” by immigrants and temporary workers. This remittances have very little or no overhead and generally go directly to the poor to help with basic needs.
This is by no means a reason for US aid to be decreased or not increased appropriately. But it does indicate that transfer of wealth can and will happen on multiple levels and that the government is increasingly a smaller player in actual wealth transfer. I don’t think this is a surprising story in an increasingly global financial world. Many of my posts are about how you can directly invest in defeating poverty.