NPR

Should America Keep Giving Billions Of Dollars To Countries In Need?

The matter of foreign aid has taken on renewed urgency in the Trump administration. And it turns out it isn't easy to figure out whether it's effective.
Each year, the United States sends billions of dollars to poor countries. Does it really help them grow? / Marcus Butt / Getty Images

Each year, the United States sends billions of dollars to poor countries. Does it really help them grow?

The question isn't new.

But it's taken on renewed urgency in the Trump administration. Last month, NPR's David Greene asked Stephen Moore, who advised Trump's campaign on economic policy, whether he supports the idea of cutting the U.S. foreign aid budget. His response: "100 percent."

"There's zero evidence that any of these foreign aid programs have had any effect on development, whether it's in the Middle East or Africa or South America," said Moore, who is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "And there's just zero evidence that any of that development aid has had any effect on raising the living standards."

Is Moore right?

"It's an extremely difficult question to answer," says Rachel Glennerster, executive director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her group uses scientific research to test and improve programs that address

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR4 min readPolitics
Trump Administration Weakens Climate Plan To Help Coal Plants Stay Open
The Trump administration is replacing one of President Barack Obama's signature plans to address climate change. It may help some coal-fired power plants, but likely won't slow the industry's decline.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Fed Ponders When To Cut Interest Rates
There's an unusual air of suspense surrounding the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, with the possibility that the central bank could cut rates for the first time in nearly 11 years.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Canada's Trudeau Approves Controversial Pipeline Expansion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first approved the project, which is opposed by many environmental groups, in 2016, but Tuesday's announcement means construction can begin later this year.