Rich countries most dedicated to helping poorer nations

Oh, those Nordic countries. They may not be superpowers, but they certainly have a kind of global dominance. Year after year, they top lists for the best places to raise kids, the greenest countries and even the happiest nations. And now they’re at it again, topping a recent list of industrialized nations that put the best effort into helping poorer ones.

Last week, the Center for Global Development released a ranking of 27 of the world’s wealthiest countries on their dedication to policies that help alleviate poverty. Finland, Denmark and Sweden took the top three spots.

It wasn’t a surprising finding, says Owen Barder, senior fellow at the center, because the countries “tend to have generous aid policies, open trade and pursue environmentally friendly policies. They tend to do the things you would expect to have pro-development impacts.”

The ranking, called the Commitment to Development Index, measures countries on seven policy areas: aid, trade, migration, finance, technology, security and environment. Countries earn bonus points for giving generous and high-quality aid and being financially transparent. They’re also rewarded for supporting technological research and policies that protect the environment, encourage open immigration, and promote fair trade and global security.

The index penalizes countries for barriers to sharing technology and imports from developing countries, selling arms to poor and undemocratic nations, and for maintaining policies that harm global goods.

The United States took the 20th spot on the list, coming in right after Hungary. That’s up one spot from the 2015 version of the index. Over time, the U.S. has been passed by countries like Austria and France, which have made strong efforts to improve their development policies, Barder says.

“It’s not that the U.S. policies have gotten worse, it’s that they haven’t gotten better as fast as other countries policies have gotten better, he says.

To move up in the ranking next year, Barder says the U.S. would likely have to improve its policies in two areas: commitments to the environment and to technology sharing.

“The U.S. has pretty rubbish policies on allowing technologies to be used in the developing world,” Barder says. “If you don’t let that technology spread, then you get an ever-growing gap.”

These are the top 10 wealthy that are most dedicated to helping poorer nations, according to the Center for Global Development:

Rank Country
1 Finland
2 Denmark
3 Sweden
4 France
5 Portugal
6 Norway
7 Netherlands
7 Austria
9 United Kingdom
10 New Zealand

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