World Politics and International Economics

By C. Fred Bergsten; Lawrence B. Krause | Go to book overview

Foreign aid: its speckled past and future prospects

Charles R. Frank, Jr., and Mary Baird

At the present time, the political popularity of foreign assistance, both bilateral and multilateral, has reached a low point in the United States. The lack of enthusiasm is epitomized by the vote of the House of Representatives in January 1974 against the United States's pledge of $550 million to support the International Development Association (IDA), the soft-loan subsidiary of the World Bank (even though that vote was subsequently reversed). Total US commitments of official development assistance have declined from 0.59 percent of GNP in 1963 to 0.29 percent in 1972.1

The malaise is not confined to the United States. Official development assistance of all members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) declined from 0.51 percent to 0.34 percent of GNP between 1963 and 1972.2 Aid from France suffered an absolute decline, while that from Germany and the United Kingdom, although increasing absolutely, also declined with respect to GNP.

The disenchantment with aid is not confined to the donor countries. Until fairly recently, nearly all less developed countries clamored for more aid. Through United Nations channels, particularly the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and in their relations with developed countries and with multilateral institutions, the less developed countries attempted to use a wide range of hortatory devices to draw attention to their need for more aid. The alleged long-run tendency for the terms of trade to turn against the poorer nations and threats of

Charles R. Frank, Jr., is with the United States Department of State, and Mary Baird is with the First National Bank of Chicago. The authors wish to thank C. Fred Bergsten and Larry Krause for their extensive comments on this essay, Gerald Epstein who served as a research assistant, and Ann Ziegler who typed a couple of drafts in her usual competent fashion.

____________________
1
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Development Cooperation: Efforts and Policies of the Members of the Development Assistance Committee ( Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1973), p. 189.

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