Individual Giving & Structural Inequities

Dear Kim,

I have just heard that the USA is not the most generous country in the world. Is this true? Who is? I am really disappointed because I thought this was something to be proud of.

~Flag is drooping

Dear Flag,

There are several indices of generosity and Charities Aid Foundation, which publishes one every year, caught people off guard when they discovered that Burma (Myanmar) was the world’s most generous country, followed by the United States. Here is a report on the findings:

Another index looks at generosity by the amount of aid countries provide to other countries. As you can see in this report,, the USA isn’t even in the top ten.

Americans are generous people. In almost every study, we rank in the top five most generous countries. But to make this a source of pride is a little strange to me. We lead all developed nations in infant mortality rates and have 25% of the world’s prisoners. Our generosity does not keep 20% of children out of poverty nor does it address the fact that a baby born in El Salvador is more likely to reach his or her 5th birthday than a baby born in Detroit.

Perhaps we should direct our generosity and desire for a fair and equitable society towards supporting structural solutions to our nation’s vast problems.

~Kim Klein