American Opinion on Foreign Aid

Does the average American favor foreign aid? Do most Americans think aid is used in the right way and for the right reasons?

At a time when the American economy is juggling with the problem of budget deficit, it’s hard to imagine that Americans support development assistance to the poor abroad. Aside from the conventional wisdom of helping developing nations as a moral responsibility, most Americans perceive that development aid also fosters democracy as reported (here) by Council of Foreign Relations.

Additionally, Americans comprehend the importance of helping farmers in developing countries as supported by a recent survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs revealing that the American public voted for directing U.S. aid to poor farmers in the developing countries.  This coincides with a survey done in 2001 by PIPA which showed that majority American supported hunger aid.The survey also revealed that the American public believes that involvement of private sector can help maintain the accountability of aid. However, most doubt the effectiveness of foreign aid questioning whether it has yielded the desired results. (Click here for details)

Surprisingly, the common misconception that aid makes up a large portion of the U.S. budget lingers on.  In a recent survey conducted by World Public Opinion, the median response of foreign aid as percent of total budget was 25% while the desired budget has been consistent at 10% since the year 2004. In reality, the total of foreign aid comprises just 1% of the total budget. The staggering difference in opinion alarms the need for raising more public awareness in terms of foreign policy and aid.

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High Skilled Immigrants in the U.S.

Photo from Global Immigration Counsel

From taxi drivers to high-tech intellectuals, immigrants are a core element of the American economy. The U.S. immigrant population has grown by 7.4 million in a span of nine years, and immigration remains a polarized discussion today.

At a recent forum hosted by Brookings Institution and George Mason University, immigration policies toward the high-skilled migrant workforce and the role of immigrants in innovation were discussed. The event was divided into two panels. While the first discussed the brightest immigrants in America and the continuing trend of foreign workers, the second focused on high-skilled workers and their impact on the U.S. economy. Continue reading

USAID: Shifting Development Gears

While it is still is a question if USAID will be a cutting edge actor in development in the years to come, the administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah is all set to forge new directions for the agency. From taking the lead on the Feed the Future initiative to internal reforms within USAID, Dr. Shah during the past year has taken a number of steps to position U.S. development efforts as a critical and dynamic component of U.S. foreign policy.

In a recent speech (pdf), hosted by Center for Global Development CGD (video here), Dr. Shah unveiled several aggressive reforms in how U.S. development efforts are implemented and discussed the transformation of the USAID into a “modern development enterprise”. As the beginning of the modern development enterprise, Shah declared reforms in evaluation policy and USAID’s new position towards contractors and implementers. Continue reading

Microfinance: Shunning Down??

Courtesy: The New York Times

The world is not perfect! Likewise, no development strategy is totally perfect either.  A phenomenon that took the development world by storm was microcredit. Coined in 1983 by Noble Peace Prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, microcredit was aimed at the poor and disadvantaged in society (then specifically in Bangladesh). Today, almost 3 decades later, it seems like the very success of microcredit has attracted bad apples! Continue reading

Global Preparedness for Graying Population

Picture Courtesy of CSIS
Picture Courtesy of CSIS
GAP Index Country Rankings, Note: Countries are ranked from best to worst
GAP Index Country Rankings, Note: Countries are ranked from best to worst

Will countries grow “older” before they get “richer”? Population aging has become a global phenomenon. According to the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), since World War II, global life expectancy has risen from about45 to 65. In wealthy countries, life expectancy has risen from mid 60s to high 70s, and in a few countries, including Italy and Japan, it has reached 80. Similarly, United Nations Population Division (UNPD), population projections show that the world median age will rise from 26.4 in 2000 to 36.8 in 2050. While it is good news that the longevity is on the rise due to various achievements in science, public health, and socioeconomic development, can the world handle its growing elderly population? Continue reading

Governance, Development and Aid: It’s Complicated

Courtesy:World Bank Institute

Until mid-1990s- governance, anti-corruption, and transparency in aid were largely ignored . Today, the relationship between governance, development and aid has risen up the international policy agenda. However, the broad definition and varied understanding of “good governance” has made it one of the most soporific words in development. The normative idea of what constitutes good governance differs across societies and that may be the reason for the difficulty in conceptualizing and operationalizing governance.  The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) used the following framework to analyze governance and development: Continue reading

Study Abroad Does Not Always Mean Stay Abroad

Image Courtesy: Identity Zine

While it is common for most immigrants in the US to stay back and send money and resources back to their homeland, some choose to improve the lives of their community by transferring the knowledge and skills gained in the US for the development of their country.  This can often be more challenging than what most students expect. Continue reading