Sunday, November 21, 2010

The latest "Commitment to Development Index"

Is available at:

I have just written to them as follows, and I hope this is self-explanatory>

Sirs/ Mesdames

Your "Commitment to Development Index" is highly useful, but would be even more useful if it did not distort the picture by focusing only on government-to-government aid (which mostly ends up, in any case, in the pockets of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats).

You know of course that many countries, e.g. in Europe, disincentivize private philanthropy by high taxation and/ or not setting off private philanthropy against taxes due.

By contrast, other countries, e.g. the USA, incentivise private philanthropy by low taxation and/or setting off private philanthropy against taxes due.

What philosophy countries follow is entirely their own affair, though we might have our own views about it.

However, both government-to-government largesse and private philanthropy need to be considered together for a proper and complete picture of the field.

For your Index, therefore, kindly consider including both the figures for government aid and the figures for private philanthropy.

ENDS Sphere: Related Content


David Roodman said...

Prabhu, thank you for your comment on the CDI.
Actually I believe 20 of the 22 countries in the CDI offer tax incentives for charity and these *are* rewarded by to the extent that they are estimated to increase overseas charity. This is all explained in the documentation.

Now it is true that the CDI is an index of *government* policy, which is also the focus of through Centerfor Global Development, which produces the CDI. That is not because we think that government is all that matters but because we think that influencing what government does is smart way to leverage the charitable dollars we receive. So I think we are pretty clear about what "the picture" means to us--but let me know it you think we have not been clear enough.

David Roodman

Prabhu Guptara said...

Dear David

Many thanks for your comments on my post.

Your arguments are clear and correct, from CDI's point of view.

My point is, however, that while producing an Index of this sort is fine, you could easily have a supplement to the Index which does not merely "reward" countries for their tax policies according to points that you give on the basis of your estimates, but actually includes private giving either in absolute numbers or on a per capital basis - or indeed on the basis of giving as a percentage of GDP.

If CDI did that, it would produce a properly rounded and balanced picture of how much total commitment to development there is in which countries.

However, many thanks for your work on the Index - it provides a lot of information briefly and conveniently.

Wayfaring Stranger said...

Also in the frequently asked questions section on the website, an answer talks about the US and Japan as being the least generous per capita in comparison to the size of their economies, while many Scandinavian countries are ranked at the top, despite having smaller economies. This wording does indeed distort the picture in the sense that generosity is implied to mean only government-sponsored aid programs and not individual or private generosity which is in actual fact more focused on development and more accountable.

I'm glad you raised this point, Prabhu. The data on private giving does rank the US and Japan ahead of most countries in the world.