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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Ranking as Foreign Aid Donor Slips to Fourth

WASHINGTON -- The United States, once the world's largest donor of foreign aid to poor nations, has slipped to fourth place, behind Japan, France and Germany, an authoritative international agency reported Monday.

The news, which came from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, in Paris, prompted Brian Atwood, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to condemn the congressional budget cuts that have diminished the U.S. contribution in the last few years.

"We're the richest nation on Earth," Atwood told a news conference. "We should feel ashamed. We are failing to fulfill our responsibilities as a world power."

The survey by the international organization confirmed the steady decline in U.S. government donations to the developing world, even while public opinion polls show that most Americans believe the United States is far more generous than it really is.

A poll by the University of Maryland a year ago, for example, reported that Americans believed 18 percent of the U.S. government budget was devoted to foreign aid, a figure that those polled said should be cut to 8 percent. In fact, the United States devotes less than 1 percent of its budget to foreign aid.

Moreover, the United States spends only one tenth of 1 percent of its gross national product on foreign aid, the lowest percentage among the 27 industrial nations that belong to the OECD.

"That's not generous," Atwood said. "We will not balance our budget if the developing world continues to produce failed states that disrupt the global economy. ... If we continue to ignore this responsibility, the world will see increasing chaos, and our generation will be condemned for its shortsightedness."

Japan donated $14.5 billion in 1995; France, $8.4 billion; Germany, $7.5 billion; and the United States, $7.3 billion. They were followed by the Netherlands ($3.3 billion), Britain ($3.2 billion), Canada ($2.1 billion), Sweden ($2 billion), Denmark ($1.6 billion) and Italy ($1.5 billion), the organization said.

It also reported that there was a general decline of 9 percent in worldwide aid to poor countries from 1994 to 1995, but that was far less than the 28 percent drop in U.S. giving.