Magazine article Newsweek International

Altruism and Opportunism; When It Comes to Mixing Good Deeds with Good Business, Holland Leads the Way

Magazine article Newsweek International

Altruism and Opportunism; When It Comes to Mixing Good Deeds with Good Business, Holland Leads the Way

Article excerpt

Byline: Emily Flynn

There is an eternal struggle in the Dutch mind, say the Dutch themselves, between the merchant and the vicar--between doing good business and, with the money earned, good deeds. In the 16th century the Protestant Reformation swept across the Netherlands, filling the country with charity-minded ascetic Calvinists. Meanwhile, the Netherlands' long coastline on the North Sea helped spark enthusiasm for international trade. In fact, the rise of Holland's mercantilist culture in the 17th century heralded a golden age for the country.

It should be no surprise, then, that in the two years since Foreign Policy magazine and the Washington-based Center for Global Development launched their Commitment to Development Index, which measures how much the world's 21 richest countries help its poorest countries, the Netherlands has always ranked first. Few nations can match its mix of altruism, wealth and international awareness. The Dutch government gives the equivalent of $208 per citizen in aid to developing countries every year, compared with the U.S. government's $47. Moreover, each Dutch person on average privately donates $14.60 a year, dwarfing Japan's $1.46. The Netherlands also leads the way in foreign investment to developing countries, thanks largely to government-subsidized political-risk insurance to firms willing to set up camp in volatile nations recovering from war. Between 2000 and 2002, aid agencies in the Netherlands gave $201 million to Tanzania alone--funding 83 separate projects. …

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