Welcome To The First World

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 2 2012 @ 3:39pm


After comparing present-day wealth, health, and education rates with those of 1961, Charles Kenny thinks many "developing" countries have graduated to the next stage:

Italy's annual income per capita in 1961, according to the late economic historian Angus Maddison, was $6,373. That's less than the average 2008 incomes in Brazil, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, and Thailand (measured in constant dollars). And Italy, mind you, was twice as rich as Portugal was in 1961…. [T]he average Brazilian or Chinese today lives longer than the average Brit or American did in 1961…. So perhaps we should ditch the "developing" label we often slap on countries like Brazil, China, and Russia. In historical terms, we'd call them something else: rich.

This means they should pony up, Kenny argues:

Brazil, China, India, and Russia combined gave away somewhere less than $6.4 billion in foreign assistance in 2010. By contrast, Canada alone gave $5.2 billion, France gave $14.4 billion, and the United States gave more than twice that. And if you take low-end estimates of the combined aid outflow from Brazil, China, and India in 2009, they're still considerably smaller than the aid those same countries collectively received.

(Photo: Fireworks light up the sky as paramilitary policemen stand guard during the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. By China Photos/Getty Images)