The International Commitment for Foreign Aid SpendingCurrently, there is an international commitment among developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid. The goal for this aid is to assist the world’s poorest countries in developing sustainably. However, the majority of the richest countries in the world have not met this commitment. In fact, the United States ranked last in 2018 (27th) on the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) after only spending 0.18 percent on foreign aid. While the U.S. is reducing foreign aid spending, four countries are choosing to invest even more into developing countries than international commitment. They are doing so not only for humanitarian reasons but for strategic reasons as well.

Here are the four countries exceeding the international commitment for foreign aid spending.

4 Countries Exceeding the Commitment for Foreign Aid Spending

  1. Denmark – In 2018, Denmark allocated 0.72 percent of its GNI to foreign aid. The majority of this amount took the form of bilateral aid, which means Denmark provided aid directly to foreign governments rather than international organizations. With its commitment to foreign aid spending, the country seeks to enhance its soft power and to reduce immigration to Denmark. Development Minister of Denmark Ulla Tørnæs stated, “Through our development work, we create better living conditions, growth and jobs in some of the world’s poorest countries and thereby help prevent migration.”
  2. Norway – Norway spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Although the country directed a higher percentage of its GNI to foreign aid than Denmark, Norway’s quality of foreign aid is not as strong. According to the Center for Global Development, the country’s aid score has declined due to struggles in the transparency and learning categories. According to Børge Brende, the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, foreign aid spending enhances Norway’s soft power and national security interests. Additionally, the promotion of business development in foreign countries “is a good example of how aid can be used as a catalyst to mobilize other, larger flows of capital.”
  3. Luxemburg – Luxemburg spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Luxemburg’s aid score is quite high, ranking fifth out of 27 among CDI countries. As explained by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), efficient bilateral foreign aid spending “enables Luxembourg to maximize its visibility, impact and international influence.” Currently, Luxemburg focuses its foreign aid spending in sub-Saharan Africa due to its particularly high rates of poverty.
  4. Sweden – At 1.01 percent, Sweden ranks first amongst developed nations for the highest percent of GNI directed towards foreign aid. Foreign aid has become a primary focus for Sweden due to the high influx of immigrants Sweden has taken in within the past few years. Like Denmark, Sweden sees foreign aid as an opportunity to reduce the inflow of immigrants by improving the economic conditions and overall wellbeing of developing countries. This high level of foreign aid spending is one of the main reasons why Sweden ranked eighth in the world in terms of soft power in 2018. In that sense, foreign aid spending is a long-term investment for Sweden because it helps Sweden manage immigration flow, build up the global economy and increase its influence on foreign countries. Since Sweden views foreign aid as an investment, the country heavily focuses on learning about the effectiveness of its foreign aid spending in order to maximize results.

Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg and Sweden all demonstrate that foreign aid spending is in the national interest of developed nations. Since these countries do not perceive foreign aid spending as a mere charity, they have become more incentivized than most other developed countries to provide high-quality aid.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in LuxembourgLuxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world, but how is that reflected in the living conditions in Luxembourg? It has been acknowledged as one of the most livable places in the world, however, that wealth does not extend to everyone who lives in the country.

8 facts about living conditions in Luxembourg

  1.  There is a significant shortage of housing in the country. This is due to many factors such as an increasing population, a lack of new housing, rising housing prices, etc. To combat this, the government is encouraging construction of affordable and subsidized housing.
  2. As the most desired location to live, Luxembourg City is quite expensive. The monthly cost of a one bedroom apartment is approximately 1,397 euros. Since areas such as Luxembourg City are known for high rental costs, many people in the country go to neighboring countries such as Belgium, Germany, or France to live because they are close in proximity and offer much cheaper housing costs.
  3. 66 percent of people in Luxembourg, ages 15-64, have a paying job. This is slightly lower than the average of 68 percent for other countries in the region. Although, this percentage rate is fairly high and shows that employment opportunities exist for people of all ages in Luxembourg.
  4. The education system has a 100 percent adult literacy rate, and students must graduate with full fluency in German, French and Luxembourgish. Students register for state schools with their Social Security, and children of expats usually attend international schools, which can go up to almost €19,000 per year. University fees, however, are much less expensive.
  5. When it comes to finding a job in Luxembourg, an education and specific skills are important and often required prior to applying. While the unemployment rate is 2.4 percent, higher than the average set by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) at 1.8 percent, the wages earned are the highest rate in the OECD at $63,062 a year on average.
  6. As mentioned previously, Luxembourg has very high living costs, which is why many workers choose to live across the border. This means that workers have a tedious and sometimes complicated commute to work. Most of the workers have no choice but to deal with the commuting difficulties since they cannot afford to pay the housing and living costs in Luxembourg city.
  7. The healthcare system in Luxembourg is public, meaning that a basic version is free for everyone. Employed individuals have to pay 2.8 percent of their earnings to the healthcare system monthly. Every worker that lives in Luxembourg has to contribute to healthcare. The rates can vary based on the type of employment and the risks involved with the job. Private healthcare is also available.
  8. Employees pay towards their pension and health insurance directly via their salary, but the majority of social security and pension is paid for by the employer. Those that earn less than  €11,265 a year do not have to pay taxes, with the maximum paid being 42 percent on an income that is greater than €200,004.

Luxembourg may be a rich country, but its citizens experience hardships meeting the costs of daily living, which has forced many outside its borders.

Haley Saffren
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Luxembourg

Luxembourg boasts one of the highest standards of living globally, with the world’s highest per capita income of $46,591 per person. However, with one in five citizens living under the threat of poverty and social exclusion, even one of the world’s richest countries cannot escape poverty.

In Luxembourg, most people live comfortably. Since 2009, the employment rate has increased by more than 16 percent but the current unemployment rate is only 5.9 percent – well below the European average of 10.4 percent. Generous social benefits and laws condemning discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and disabled people further improve the overall quality of life in Luxembourg.

Despite these promising conditions, poverty is still an issue in Luxembourg. In 2013, the threshold for the risk of poverty amounted to approximately €1,665. During that year, about 15.9 percent of people living in the country found themselves in that category – of this group, 23.9 percent were children.

An article written by Gornick and Jantti identified Luxembourg as a high income country with disproportionately high child poverty. In the study, they found that children in Luxembourg were 20 percent more likely to be poor than the overall population.

One of the main causes of poverty in Luxembourg is having lived in poverty before. The risk of remaining poor or becoming poor for those who have previously lived in poverty is about 70 percent. On the other hand, those who have had no prior experience with poverty only face a four percent risk of entering poverty. Consequently, 60 percent of the level of state dependence is made up of those who have previously experienced poverty.

The Luxembourg Chamber of Employees identified another one of the causes of poverty in Luxembourg. They analyzed the relationship between the risk of poverty and cost of housing and found that nearly one third of tenants faced the risk of poverty. In other European countries, such as France and Germany, this risk is much lower.

One way that the Luxembourg government attempts to fight poverty and social exclusion is through the minimum guaranteed income (MGI). The MGI is given to people or households who fall below a certain threshold and its main goal is to provide sufficient means of existence and opportunities for social and professional inclusion.

Efforts such as the MGI are critical steps to improving poverty in Luxembourg. While many live comfortably and the country is prosperous in several ways, still more must be done to assist those in poverty and to lower the unnaturally high proportion of children in poverty.

Lauren Mcbride

Photo: Flickr

Luxembourg is a small, prosperous country in western Europe. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Luxembourg has made great strides in continuing to achieve and secure basic human rights in Luxembourg for their citizens.

As of 2017, the government of Luxembourg has met the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department, “These achievements included increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions, finalizing and adopting a written national referral mechanism, enhancing the number of dedicated personnel to anti-trafficking positions” and others.

There were reported occasional cases of discrimination throughout the country over the last decade, specifically discrimination with respect to employment on the basis of race, color, political opinion, sex, gender, disability and other categories. Luxembourg law requires quotas for hiring diverse types of employees. It also mandates equal pay for equal work.

In September 2014, in reaction to reporting that employers paid women 8.6 percent less on average than men for the same work, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities began an awareness campaign using newspapers, online advertisements and posters in order to end the unequal treatment of women in the workplace.

On a more controversial note, Luxembourg legalized euthanasia in 2009, making it the third country in Europe to legalize euthanasia. The law on palliative care, advance instructions and end-of-life accompaniment “applied to anyone in a hopeless medical situation as a result of an accident or serious illness.” Many human rights advocacy groups, such as the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach, have spoken out against the practice.

The Human Rights Council will be reviewing human rights in Luxembourg early next year to determine whether they are fulfilling their human rights commitments. But it is safe to say that with a stable government and human rights laws that are routinely enforced, human rights will continue to be respected in Luxembourg.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Luxembourg

Sandwiched between France and Germany, the small nation of Luxembourg is home to nearly 600,000 citizens. Health for the Luxembourgish people is mostly moderate, straying from the norms of Europe very little. However, common diseases in Luxembourg still take their toll on the population, and are more than attention-worthy.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2004 begins by asserting that boys and girls born in Luxembourg can expect to live as long as any other child in Europe. In other words, the life-expectancy averages are very close. The report also notes that Luxembourg’s first-year-of-life mortality rate is among the lowest in Europe.

Common diseases in Luxembourg, as of the 2004 report, include noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cerebrovascular disease refers to diseases in which part of the brain is affected by irregular blood flow (“cerebro” meaning “of the large part of the brain” and “vascular” meaning “of the arteries and veins”).

Of these diseases, ischemic stroke is the most common, and occurs when a blockage prevents blood flow to the brain. Victims of this type of attack can usually expect to feel dizzy or nauseated, can feel confused, have abnormal speech, loss of vision, and even experience unusually severe headaches.

Women in particular struggle the most with cerebrovascular diseases in Luxembourg; in fact, women “die from this cause twice as often between 25 and 64 years as women in [the rest of Europe].”

Contributors to cerebrovascular disease include unpreventable circumstances, like age, as well as things that can at least be somewhat controlled, like high blood pressure and smoking. One-third of Luxembourg men and one-fourth of women smoke, one of the highest rates in Europe.

However, cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in Luxembourg.

The American Heart Association states that the most common effect of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack. This occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to part of the heart. If this obstruction blocks blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle which the artery connects to will begin to die.

Other types of cardiovascular disease include arrhythmia (irregular rhythm of the heart) and heart failure (when the heart cannot pump enough blood).

The current numbers show signs of improvement against the common diseases in Luxembourg. As of 2015, more than ten years later, health has improved in the small European nation. Life expectancy has jumped up to 80 in men and 84 in women, an increase of a few years each.

Cerebrovascular disease has also fallen off, dropping below Alzheimer’s disease, seeing a 25.4 percent decrease between 2005 and 2015. Ischemic heart disease has also seen an improvement, dropping by 22.5 percent in the same time frame.

Stephen Praytor

Photo: Google

Luxembourg Poverty Rate
While Luxembourg is a wealthy European country, some of its people still live in poverty. In 2015, one in five citizens – 19 percent – lived under the threat of poverty. Unfortunately, there has been an uptick in the Luxembourg poverty rate since 2003, when the rate was 15.8 percent. This was at least partly due to the financial crisis.

The European definition of poverty, which is used to determine the Luxembourg poverty rate, includes people whose income, including social benefits, amounts to less than 60 percent of the country’s median income and therefore are unable to afford basic necessities like rent and transportation.

There is, however, good news when it comes to jobs. The unemployment rate in Luxembourg is 5.7 percent. This is the fourth-best in Europe after Germany, Austria and Malta. The European average is 10.4 percent, making Luxembourg’s rate quite low in comparison.

The average household available income in Luxembourg is $40,914 U.S., much higher than $29,016 – the average of member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD). While income inequality has increased in Luxembourg since the financial crisis, it is still below the average of all OECD countries.

According to a study by EurWORK, about 12 percent of workers in Luxembourg are paid minimum wage. However, it is much more common for younger workers to be working for minimum wage than older workers. Unfortunately, nearly half of workers between the ages of 18 and 24 make so little that they fall below the poverty line.

Address Luxembourg’s Poverty Rate

Nevertheless, the government has introduced plans to help the working poor. The minimum wage is tied to the rate of inflation, so people with resources less than the legal limits are now given a guaranteed minimum income so they are able to support themselves. In 2009, the government also introduced childcare vouchers for families at risk of poverty to help them pay for daycare or after-school babysitting. Employers generally support these reforms.

Though poverty remains an issue in Luxembourg, the government has a history of implementing proactive solutions which gives citizens reason to be hopeful about their country’s poverty rate being reduced in the near future.

Brock Hall

 

Water Quality in Luxembourg

Over the past few years, the water quality in Luxembourg has become outstanding. Not only outstanding, but it now has a top rating of excellence, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). The 11 lakes around Luxembourg all received “excellent” status, meaning that the water is free from pollution and is safe for human health and the environment.

In addition to the lakes and bathing areas certified to be safe as far as water quality, the quality of tap water in Luxembourg is safe as well. Although most of the citizens of Luxembourg drink bottled mineral water, it’s all based on the preference of the individual’s taste. World Travel Guide stated that tap water in Luxembourg is safe anywhere in the country, and there have been no medical risks posed by the tap water.

Overall, the water quality in Luxembourg is high in cleanliness and purity. According to Numbeo, the water quality sits at 77.94 percent and the drinking water quality and accessibility sits at 75 percent, which both rate as high in the cleanliness and purity categories. The city of Luxembourg rated very high in all cleanliness and purity categories, with water quality reaching 84.62 percent.

To receive their tremendous water quality in Luxembourg, it uses an ultrafiltration system from the company INGE WaterTechnologies AG, which is the leader in global technology for supplying top-quality membranes and modules. Viviane Loschetter, the Luxembourg councilor, said, “The city of Luxembourg makes tremendous efforts to constantly monitor the quality of the water people drink here.” In essence, the system removes all bacteria, viruses and suspended solids without using chemicals.

One can see that Luxembourg has been successful in its efforts for high-quality water. With their lakes receiving excellent status, and the water being safe to consume, traveling to Luxembourg accounts for little to no worry.

Lindsey Robideau

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in LuxembourgLuxembourg is a small country that shares borders with Belgium, France and Germany. It is also well-known for its efforts not only to solve hunger in Luxembourg, but also around the globe. An economic rise and an increased standard of living have made hunger in Luxembourg rare; however, it has also led to nutritional issues, such as obesity.

Since 2006, Luxembourg has been one of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) most important donors in the fight against global hunger. With a significant total donation of 9.6 million euros for that year, Luxembourg had also announced a 2.6 million euro donation to fund school meals for 100,000 children in Sahel region in Africa.

In 2008, the approximately 490,000 individuals lived in Luxembourg. It was estimated that 60.6 percent of the adult population older than 20, was overweight. The prevalence prediction for 2020 has estimated that 22 percent of the male population and 23 percent of the female population will be obese.

Obesity has been defined as “an adult having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater to or equal to 30.0.” BMI can be calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height squared in meters. A BMI below 18.5 is defined as underweight, while a BMI between 18.5 and 25 is in normal range.

This shows that although Luxembourg has taken action against hunger, it has not yet taken action against obesity.

By 2011, only five percent of the population was undernourished, but by 2014, Luxembourg was ranked ninth out of 16 countries where 23 percent or more of the population is obese.

This rate is lower than that of the U.S. The U.S. has officially been named the most obese country, with 35 percent of its population being overweight. It is predicted that by 2020, two out of every three countries will struggle with an increase in obesity, not malnutrition.

Luxembourg has been noted to consume fewer fruits and vegetables in a day than most European countries. This shows that the nutrition problem is not hunger in Luxembourg, but rather overeating and an unhealthy diet.

The OECD reported that in 2014, only 50 percent of adults in Luxembourg consumed fruits and vegetables daily compared to 62 percent and 57 percent, respectively, for fruits and vegetables on average in 28 EU countries.

The goal is to implement awareness campaigns to improve nutrition habits and physical activity within children while strengthening the regulations of food advertising. Luxembourg continues to make progress in nutrition labeling to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages in hopes of a nutritional change in people’s daily lives.

While Luxembourg continues to help eliminate world hunger, it is slowly taking steps to tackle its domestic obesity problem. By putting a focus on healthy nutrition, there is hope to reduce the obesity rate within Luxembourg and create a healthier future.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Pixabay


Luxembourg, a tiny country tucked between Belgium, Germany and France, has had its share of economic misfortunes. However, the country experienced a rise in the economy, and thus, a subsequent decrease in poverty in the past few years. The country launched various programs that assist in alleviating debt, and a decrease in poverty in Luxembourg followed as a result.

In 2000, Luxembourg began to see a consistent rise in salaries and a decrease in poverty and unemployment. During this year, salaries rose by 46 percent (more than any other country), while GDP rose by 8 percent. In addition, only one in five Luxembourg citizens lived in threat of poverty and social exclusion.

Two years later, the country launched numerous programs to support economic diversification and attract foreign investment. This launch helped move along Luxembourg’s fight against poverty. With the implementation of these programs, Luxembourg became the world’s second largest investment (after the U.S.).

Furthermore, employment rose by at least 16 percent since 2009. Compared to Europe’s 10.4 percent unemployment rate, Luxembourg boasts a 5.9, ranking fourth behind Germany, Austria and Malta.

The constant rise in employment and salaries benefits working adults, but children continue to struggle, particularly those that live in single parent homes. In 2012, UNICEF reported that 12.3 percent of children live in poverty in Luxembourg, an increase from the previous 11.5 percent. Additionally, the country experiences a 14.6 percent child poverty gap.

In the following year, the threshold for risk of poverty rested at 1,665 euros. During that time, it affected approximately 15.9 percent of the population with 23.9 percent being children. To combat this trend, Luxembourg continually works on a guaranteed minimum income to reduce the poverty rate.

Luxembourg continues to see a rise in GDP and employment since the implementation of various programs and lobbying for minimum wage. In 2016, the GDP reported at $58.74 billion, a $1.99 billion increase from the previous year. In addition, the unemployment rate in 2016 reported at 6.7 percent, a .2 percent decrease from 2015.

No current data on the population living in poverty in Luxembourg is currently reported. But, it can be inferred from the continued rise of GDP and employment rate, and the decrease of unemployment that poverty in Luxembourg continues to fall at a steady pace.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr


According to the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index, Luxembourg ranks eighth in Europe for comprehensive healthcare. This makes sense, given the fact that Luxembourg is the wealthiest country in the EU. Even so, Luxembourg still faces diseases that threaten its citizens. This article examines the most major diseases in Luxembourg and what measures have been taken to advance patient care and lower mortality rates.

Most prevalent of the major diseases in Luxembourg is cardiovascular disease. According to the statistics portal funded by the Government of Luxembourg, in the year 2014, cardiovascular diseases caused approximately 31.2 percent of deaths. Ischemic heart diseases, as well as other forms of heart disease such as heart failure and cardiac arrest, were the leading causes of death within this category.

Cancer causes 30.6 percent of deaths in the country. Cancers of the digestive system accounted for the highest rate of death in this category, followed closely by cancers of the respiratory system. These two cancers alone cause 52.5 percent of cancerous deaths in Luxembourg.

Respiratory diseases account for 6.97 percent of deaths. Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, influenza and pneumonia result in the most deaths, 76 percent, within this category.

The top diseases in Luxembourg align with global health trends. The World Health Organization found that cardiovascular diseases are the most deadly diseases all over the world, contributing close to 15 million of the 54 million deaths in 2015.

Luxembourg’s government has taken steps to combat some of these diseases in an effort to lower mortality rates. For instance, the Ministry of Health has implemented a four-year national cancer plan from 2014-2018. This plan is designed to develop cancer prevention methods and improve recovery processes.

Like so many other countries around the world, Luxembourg has made it its mission to find a way to not only combat the major diseases but also to better the lives of its citizens.

Harry Meiteen

Photo: Flickr