A survey released today by PSI, a leading global health organization with programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable disease, reveals what Americans know and care about when it comes to foreign aid.
The survey of 507 respondents was conducted by phone this week by Braun Research, Inc. and probed Americans’ attitudes and understanding of the costs and benefits of US investment in global health and development. It found that when offered choices of why global development funding was important, 46% of Americans thought the most important reason was that, “with only 1% of our budget, we are saving the lives of millions of families through sharing our knowledge and resources to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases as well as building stronger businesses and infrastructure.”
Previous studies have shown that many Americans overestimate the amount of funding that is dedicated to foreign aid, estimating that it is 25% of federal spending, though it represents less than one half of one percent of the budget. Respondents chose this over alternate reasons, such as the benefits of investment for U.S. diplomatic efforts or the need for the U.S. to show leadership.
“There are many compelling reasons to invest such a small percentage of the US budget in shoring up the health and structure of people in countries outside the US,” said Marshall Stowell, Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications, PSI. “It’s truly a case where our investment goes a long way. This survey shows that the majority of Americans recognize that foreign aid is important, and they like the idea that such a small investment of money, coupled with American know-how, can help save and improve lives around the world.”
The survey was released today at a press conference hosted by PSI, FHI 360, ONE, PATH, World Vision, and USAID, the federal agency that oversees U.S. programs designed to aid other countries in becoming stable and support economic growth, agriculture and trade, improve global health, promote democracy, provide conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. The event, entitled “The Power of 1%,” will address the economic, military, and diplomatic benefits of USAID programs.
In addition to their recognition of the importance of global investment, the survey revealed that few Americans see the role of development assistance in their own economic futures. Only 11% percent of respondents indicated that the economic reason – the fact that investments in the developing world strengthen demand for American goods and services – was the most compelling rationale for foreign investment. This may reflect a lack of awareness of the critical role that developing countries play in our economy; as more than 49% believed that North Americans would consume the majority of American goods in the future—which, if true, would limit American businesses dramatically.
Since the US Trade Representative reports that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s wealth is outside of our borders, one topic of Monday’s event will be how strategic investments abroad go beyond saving and improving lives to create healthier and more productive citizens that will need American goods and services.
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