U.S. Assistance to Less Developed Countries, 1956-65

Courtesy Reuters

In the great debate as to the obligations of the highly industrialized nations to the less developed countries (L.D.C.s), it is not always easy to find relevant and consistent information on the actual amounts of foreign aid provided by the United States. This is so chiefly because of the variety of American aid programs and the variety of ways in which their activities are recorded. The reduction of this diversity to a relatively few figures means some loss of precision but is justified by the need for some kind of straightforward measurement. While a considerable body of informed opinion, in the United States and abroad, holds that the growing gap between the rich nations and the poor nations may lead to disaster, this view appears to be moving against the current of public and Congressional opinion. To meet this issue it may be useful to have in one place an annotated set of figures on U.S. Government aid as well as a summary of total world aid to the L.D.C.s in the decade 1956-65.

The most striking facts revealed by the data can be summarized in eleven points:

1. Official economic aid to all L.D.C.s from all sources (including communist countries) averaged $6.7 billion a year between 1961 and 1965.

2. During the 1956-65 decade, member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which account for about 90 percent of all economic aid, provided over $50 billion of official economic assistance for L.D.C.s. The U.S. share was 58 percent of this total.

3. The net flow from all DAC countries was 45 percent higher in the second quinquennium than in the first.

4. U.S. commitments of economic assistance rose 60 percent between the first and second halves of the decade-from $2.5 billion to $4.0 billion a year. But the rising trend in annual commitments ended in 1962.

5. U.S. commitments of economic assistance to L.D.C.s and multilateral agencies rose from 0.54 percent to 0.68 percent of G.N.P. between 1956

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