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How the 10 Richest Countries Could End Poverty

Top Richest Countries International Aid Spending
At last count, there were 193 independent countries in the world. Let’s start by reviewing the top 10 richest countries. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not the richest country in the world; it comes in at seventh place.

  1. Qatar, GDP per capita: $88,222
  2. Luxembourg, GDP per capita: $81,466
  3. Singapore, GPD per capita of: $56,694
  4. Norway, GDP per capita: $51,959
  5. Brunei, GDP per capita: $48,333
  6. United Arab Emirates, GDP per capita: $47,439
  7. United States of America, GDP per capita: $46,860
  8. Hong Kong, GPD per capita: $45,944
  9. Switzerland, GDP per capita: $41,959
  10. Netherlands, GDP per capita: $40,973

So, how are the wealthiest countries in the world combating global poverty?

In 2002, the world’s leaders got serious about ending world poverty. At the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, each country agreed to dedicate 0.7 percent of its national income to international aid. If each of the 22 leading countries were to adhere to this agreement, a total of $200 billion a year would be invested in foreign aid. However, this goal has yet to be reached.

In 2005, the top richest countries in the world committed a total of $106 billion to foreign aid – $119 billion short of the 2002 target.  Each country dedicated an average of only 0.33 percent of their national income to international aid. The U.S. ranked second to last, with an investment of only 0.22 percent. The country in last place, Portugal, dedicated 0.21 percent.

However, there are five countries that have already met or surpassed the 0.7 percent goal. Starting with the largest contribution, they are:

  1. Norway at 0.93 percent
  2. Sweden at 0.92 percent
  3. Luxembourg at 0.87 percent
  4. Netherlands at 0.82 percent
  5. Denmark at 0.81 percent

What is the big deal about .07 percent?

  • This pledge was initiated in 1970 at the General Assembly Resolution, and has been recommitted several times since, the most recent being at the Monterrey conference in 2002.
  • Through this 0.7 percent commitment, world poverty can be halved within our lifetime.
  • If all 22 of the world’s leading countries met the .07 percent goal by 2015, extreme world poverty would end within a generation.
  • 16 of the 22 leading countries have already met or have agreed to meet the 0.7 percent target by no later than 2015. The U.S. is not one of them.

Why is the U.S. trailing behind the fight against global poverty?

Most Americans believe the U.S. contributes 25 percent of our gross national income (GNI) to international aid. In reality, we contribute less than 1 percent. Moreover, most Americans believe the U.S. should combat world hunger through foreign aid efforts.

Americans support investment in foreign aid. As one of the world’s wealthiest and leading countries, we can do better than second to last. It is time our values as Americans are accurately reflected in our national budget. Contact your congressional leaders today to voice your support in investing in foreign aid. Here’s a place to get started: Call Congress.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: Forbes, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Sustainable Development, Borgen Project
Photo: The Why of Development