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Sweden does most to help world's poor: study

David Landes · 22 Oct 2009, 14:33

Published: 22 Oct 2009 14:33 GMT+02:00

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Sweden edged out Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway to claim the top spot in the 2009 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), an annual ranking compiled by the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington, DC-based think tank.

“Sweden won this year thanks to an uptick in the average size of its foreign aid projects -- the CDI favors fewer, larger projects for efficiency -- and an increase in asylum applications accepted from people from poor countries, from 24,000 to 36,000 per year,” said CGD research fellow David Roodman in a statement.

Last year, Sweden claimed the number two spot in the ranking, which assesses policies in wealthy countries designed to help build prosperity in the developing world.

The index compares 22 of the world’s richest countries based on their dedication to policies that benefit poor nations, adjusting for size to compare how well the wealthy are living up to their potential to help.

In an effort to highlight links between rich and poor nations other than just foreign aid, the CDI also examines six other policy areas, including trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology.

Sweden scored 7.0 overall, slightly ahead of Denmark's 6.7 and the 6.6 score earned by both Norway and the Netherlands.

According to the index, Sweden achieved the highest score for foreign aid for policies not requiring recipients to spend aid only on Swedish goods and services and for providing a high volume of net aid as a share of its economy.

Migration policies also earned Sweden second best marks of the countries included in the CDI, primarily due to accepting a large number of refugees relative to the country’s size and for not charging tuition to foreign students.

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Sweden also placed in the top half of ranked countries in the categories of trade and environment, but performed less well when it came to investment, security, and technology, in part because of the country’s high level of arms exports to poor and relatively undemocratic governments, and for its unwillingness to share technological advances with poor countries.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:29 October 22, 2009 by skatty
I think CDI completely mixed up Swedish way of business. In one hand this article mentions that Sweden has top spot on Development Index (CDI) and in the other hand it mentions that Sweden has one of the highest level of arms exports to poor and relatively undemocratic country's. Does it means that Sweden makes people miserable to buy prestige for itself?! Actually it does, if Sweden can't get immigrant at least it gets refugees. After all some people should be forced to underclass.
16:42 October 22, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Does most? As in "per capita" comparison or more than other countries?

In other news, the US is the most charitible per capita (domestic and foreign). Feel free to deduct any "uncharitible" things the US may do into your final calculation.
16:53 October 22, 2009 by Beynch
That Sweden is 'on top' in this matter is not necessarily a good thing for Sweden. I wish Sweden would instead be No 5 or so.
17:36 October 22, 2009 by Deema

The United States is the world's largest contributor of ODA (official development assistance) in absolute terms ($15.7 billion, 2003), but the smallest among developed countries as a percentage of its GDP (0.14% in 2003). The UN target for development aid is 0.7% of GDP; currently only five countries (with Sweden in the lead with 0.98%) achieve this.

Saudi Arabia's ODA volume is second only to the USA. As percentage of GDP, Arab states of the Persian Gulf are the most generous, with Kuwait contributing 8.2% of its gross national product and Saudi Arabia 4% in 2002.

And now people please stop being negative and hateful. and let's just be human!
17:40 October 22, 2009 by Leprehcaun
We don't do the most; we just do the most per capita.. The US does the most in amount.

@ GefleFrequent

No it's the other way around; we do the most per capita and the US most in amount. The US isn't in the top 10 for most per capita, if I remember correctly we were doing about 5 times as much per capita but someone has check that I guess, I haven't researched that for.. about 8 months, the numbers has changed and I might remember wrong. Can someone please check that number?
18:00 October 22, 2009 by skatty
Let me put it in this way; I build a couple of schools in some far, far away poor village with some furniture and second hand PCs front of TV cameras and all the smiles and handshaking; you give me a couple of contracts to buy some of my combat air crafts or a dozen of tanks, of course not front of any TV camera. And of course there is a CDI to measure this humanitarian activity!
18:57 October 22, 2009 by Svamerikansk
How many refugees are here as a direct result of these "high level" of arms deals? Does the profit from the arms contracts outweigh the costs associated with providing for these refugees?

Does the state keep statistics on these things? Does it publish it's current and past national budget(s)? Where can one find this info?

From my short experience here in Sweden, it seems to be the crossroads of the world. The gate between the middle east and the west. And thus immigration seems to be the central issue.

Can anyone recommend a good, insightful book into the evolution of Sweden's immigration policy during the last fifty years?
19:26 October 22, 2009 by optomlinson
Yes it appears that the Swedish government gives the most per capita -- but what about the people giving on there own?

You see not only does the US government give the actual most overall in foriegn aid, but Americans as individuals give 4 times what the American government does! I wonder how much more we would give without such onerous taxes?

Be well dear Swedes ... but if you were not Saddled with the onerous tax system under which you find yourselves ... would you match the American Spirit?

US and Foreign Aid Assistance - Global Issues

The total of US private giving, since Adelman's previous report, ...... foreign debt service was four times their combined governmental health and education ...

www.globalissues.org/article/35/us-and-foreign-aid-assistance - Cached - Similar
19:58 October 22, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Sweden has always in more recent years had a policy of trying to play the role of "mother to the world" in some of its international policies. The fact "they" (meaning government not individuals) are giving the highest per capita to 3rd world development is quite noble, but you still have to wonder about the wisdom of their immigration policies.
21:13 October 22, 2009 by aaww
i am shocked by the title

isn't sweden a poor country itself? who do they think they can help?
21:36 October 22, 2009 by skatty
Here I write a very short conclusion for the guys, who write comments, and to CDI;

I say to all nations and countries with their authorities:

You can choose between the business of selling weapons or the business of being human, but if you are in the both businesses then you are a charlatan!
22:56 October 22, 2009 by ErnestPayne
My problem with the US statistics is how much of the donation is credits to buy american products and agricultural goods.
04:51 October 23, 2009 by randyt
"If I give food to the poor they call me a saint.

If I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

- Dom Helder Camara

Camara's statement shows the difference between the Swedish model of help for the poor and the American model. We believe we are saints because we respond quickly and with a lot of cash, then walk off from the poor.

Comments have been made about the Swedish tax burden, which may on its face be true. But all their citizens have healthcare and free education up to and including college. So a child born into a poor home is not locked into poverty.

In the USA children born into poor homes the chances of pulling themselves up by the old boots is less than one in ten. Because they have no healthcare, their schools are in the worse parts of our cities and college is out of reach for most without going into massive debt.

Tax laws in Sweden insure a more even distribution of wealth. Tax laws in the US are structured to favor the very rich, in fact since the Reagan* days wealth in America has been redistributed to the top one to five percent of the most rich people in the country, largely due to tax laws.

While the corporate taxes in Sweden are lower than in the US, the corporations in the US pay less if even any because of loop holes their politicians have given them. (Even the 'old' Wall Street Journal covered this corporate tax issue.)

*Reagan: The Great American Socialist

10:34 October 23, 2009 by BrittInSweden
@ aaww

They aren't in the G8 if that is what you mean.

However they do make it into the G12.

The reason that the USA "gives" less than most other countries is the fact it ties most of its aid to US products and services. In 2005 for instance, the USA tied 90% of its aid to requiring US products and services were purchased and used with the aid. So that is basically giving with one hand and taking with the other.
11:08 October 23, 2009 by craicen

That is a myth. In the USA the poor and lower middle classes (working poor) pay nearly NO taxes while in Sweden they pay 32% income and 25% VAT and since they spend their entire salary or dole or pension (it is all taxed) they in effect pay 52% in taxes. If they drink add into that the 80% alcohol tax and they may pay 60%+ in taxes!

The upper middle classes and some wealthy folks pay nearly all the taxes in the USA but it is true that the oligarchs are able to skirt the tax laws and capital was globalized decades ago. So, in effect the oligarchs are not Americans or Brits or anything but our global citizen and global master.
18:37 October 23, 2009 by travels

"In the USA children born into poor homes the chances of pulling themselves up by the old boots is less than one in ten. Because they have no healthcare, their schools are in the worse parts of our cities and college is out of reach for most without going into massive debt."

For your info:

In the USA children born into poor homes get Medicaid that pays absolutely all of their health care needs beginning with the mother's pregnancy, all completely free since the pregnancy is diagnosed and the child's healthcare up to 18 years of age, even if that includes the most expensive of treatments (heart surgery, brain surgery, etc) and without having to wait for their needs to be met. The family also gets WIC (women, infant and children) program that provides checks for free food (all grocery stores accept them) and nutritional advice and periodic monitoring (every 3 months) from birth until age 5 and for pregnant and lactating mothers. They also get Food Stamps (for free food) for as long as needed, many families get it for life. They also get rent assistance, pays their rent in full or partially depending on the family's finances. There is also free schooling until the end of high school, many with meals included, and with good grades and good studying scholarships for universitary studies are always available, besides affirmative action quotas where minorities get in ahead of majorities with better grades and with scholarships. Not all low income families live in the worst parts of cities at all, there are plenty of apartments and houses to rent around very good neighborhoods and for reasonable prices.

There are also food banks (free food) everywhere for whoever might need it, same with counseling of all kinds and social workers to assist and orientate people to all the programs at all levels, medical, social, schooling, etc, etc.

Want to know more about any of the many programs available, ask me, I just mentioned the most widely used, but there are many more programs available.
11:42 October 24, 2009 by skatty
It seems most of comments are around comparison between USA and Sweden. The fact is that both countries have their own poor and underclass at home, and nobody like to belong to that level anywhere; however, to belong to a particular social class is very relative to the social understanding of wealth and possibilities. A foreign immigrant with two University degrees from Sweden who sell kebab or drive taxi might feel to be an underclass in Sweden compare with a supermarket manager with a high school diploma somewhere in USA; no matter if both have health care insurance or not!
15:17 October 24, 2009 by Leprehcaun
@ craicen

It's 28%, 25% on most things, not on everything, food is a big expense and that's 6%, you don't pay taxes when you pay for rent or electricity or water for example so it's not accurate. Then you need to remember that we don't pay bills for education and very small bills for health care or none at all, it depends, and stuff like that.

@ travels

That goes to SOME of the absolutely poorest. There are criterias to be met before you get that kind of help; I don't remember what does are but you're talking about those who are 3rd world kind of poor; the lower lower class and only some of them. Those are good programs though and it's shocking that they can exist in the US without a civil war breaking out, was fox news sleeping when they went through congress or something? Anyway you can still die when you're 10 because you're poor but I think the vast majority of hospitals would disregard their own rules to make sure that wouldn't happen though. Not sure if that would happen to save the patient or to save face though..

I am not talking about all the programs you were talking about though, I have never heard of e.g. a food bank before; I don't know how that works but do you seriously tell me that there is free food available in all US towns (with 20 000+ populations to be realistic) and cities? If so hurray, if not, well at least there is something, which is very very good, just don't over-glorify it.
21:23 October 24, 2009 by Svamerikansk
Why is all the talk in Sweden about (and usually critical of) the U.S.? I have never, ever, ever in my life as an American sat around and with my friends or colleagues criticized Sweden (even though I guess I could, but my American friends and colleagues would probably show major disinterest). Not all Swedes are that way, but a lot are. But it's strange because Swedish society is so significantly influenced by American society (as you can see on TV, on the radio, everywhere). I love Sweden and the Swedish society, but I wish they would stop insulting me and my country so much, when, after all, they embrace it to an extent that it can be seen so obviously in their own society.
02:04 October 25, 2009 by Leprehcaun
@ Svamerikansk

That can easily be explained. The ones who "hates" the US (actually the ones who says that don't.. I doubt you believe that but that's the truth) think about your f-ing right. The bloody damn religious ultra nationalistic racist republicans. Those are the ones people think about when the say they hate the US. It's the morons and a-holes that we see here; those are the ones who gets all the attention here (just look at the Sweden Democrats for example; it's not just news from abroad, the worst always get the most attention and the US has a fair deal of bad.. just look at the republican party, the religious.. ehm.. less intellectual.. people., and people like Bill O'reilly, Rush Limbaugh (or however he spells his name.. I can barely pronounce it) and Glenn f-ing Beck. AH! And you have so many of them.

People like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert don't get attention; they are the good ones, no one gets upset about good people and therefore they aren't newsworthy. The bad ones always get all the attention.

The reason Americans don't care or dislike Sweden is because that we are small and to the left. We don't get much attention since it's a small country. The US is the most famous country in the world and that's why Swedes talk about the US and not the other way around.

It's not that we "embrace" the US.. in that case we'd embrace Turkey too (kebab).. it's more like.. "Americans are" this and that "but they make great movies and music; they are useful". Think of it like.. how you see..

a cow.. you don't really want to have anything to do with it, but it's useful to keep around because although you can live without milk, life wouldn't be as enjoyable. But when I say it like that it sounds very harsh.. take with a nypa salt; it sounds worse than it is supposed to sound; worse than what reality is.

18:05 January 13, 2010 by homestead

"Tax laws in Sweden insure a more even distribution of wealth. Tax laws in the US are structured to favor the very rich, in fact since the Reagan* days wealth in America has been redistributed to the top one to five percent of the most rich people in the country, largely due to tax laws."

I'm not sure what your definition of redistribution is but the top 50% in the U.S. pay 97% of income taxes while the top 10% pay over 70% and the top 1% pay over 40%. Any redistribution we have is entirely in one direction from the middle class and rich to the poor.
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