Comparisons

How does Australia's aid program compare to those of other developed countries?

Australia is a member of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The DAC currently has 30 members. They are all developed countries (plus the European Union) that have committed to use DAC policies and guidelines in their foreign aid and development work, and to report and be reviewed on their efforts. You can see the list of DAC members here. In this section, we will look at how Australia’s aid contributions compare to those of other DAC member countries over the last 20 years. The latest data available is for the 2021 calendar year. Note that “aid” and “Official Development Assistance (ODA)” are used interchangeably.

Our ranking among DAC donors: 2021

21st

On ODA as % of GNI

18th

On ODA per capita

13th

On aid volume

9th

Largest economy

19th

On ODA as % of GNI

12th

On aid volume

16th

On ODA per capita

10th

Largest economy

How do we compare on generosity?

Official development assistance (ODA) as a percentage of a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) is the most commonly used measure to assess the generosity of a country’s foreign aid. In the Trends section, we looked at how Australia’s ODA as a percentage of GNI had changed over time. In the chart below, you can see how Australia’s contributions have compared to those from other countries between 1995 and 2021. As you can see, Australia was the 14th most generous DAC member in 2015, contributing 0.29% of GNI as aid. In 2021, its ranking has dropped to 21st, with 0.22% of GNI for aid. Many European countries contribute much larger ODA/GNI shares.

There have been times when Australia was relatively more generous. In 1995, we were ranked the 9th most generous donor. Australia’s ranking then fell, reaching 19th in 2005. It showed some improvement during the aid scale-up, which began in the mid-2000s, but plateaued from 2011 to 2014 before falling to a low of 21st in 2021. The chart below shows how Australia's ranking among OECD DAC donors, based on ODA as a percentage of GNI, has changed over time.

How do we compare on aid per capita?

Aid per capita is another measure of a country’s aid effort. It measures the amount of ODA provided per head of the donor country’s population. In 1995, Australia’s aid per capita rating was 14th. Again, this slipped, falling to 19th by 2005. Following the aid scale-up, our aid per capita rating peaked at 8th in 2012. In 2015, it dropped to 15th in 2016, and by 2021, Australia was 18th.

How much aid do we give compared to other donors?

While measures such as ODA/GNI and aid per capita provide a good way to assess a country’s aid effort, based on the size of its economy or population, it is still interesting to see how the overall volume of Australia’s aid compares to that of other DAC donors. From this, we can gain some insight into the importance and prominence of Australia as an aid donor in a global context.

In 2021, based on total volumes in current prices, Australia was the 13th largest donor in the OECD DAC. The US is by far the largest donor. Four other donors also have very large aid budgets — Germany, Japan, France, and the UK. Australia is now around the level of medium-sized donors, alongside countries such as Norway, Spain and Denmark.

In 2014, the size of our aid was roughly equivalent to that of Canada’s, and accounted for 3.19% of the total volume of DAC ODA. In 2021, it was closer in size to Spain or Denmark’s aid, and was 1.92% of total DAC ODA. Below, you can see how the total aid volumes of OECD DAC members changed between 1995 and 2021. You can also see how our aid volumes compare to other OECD DAC donors, how our ranking among donors has changed over time, and our percentage share of the total DAC ODA contributions each year.

You can see that Australia's importance as a donor increased during the scale-up period, not only because we were increasing our aid (most other donors were as well) but also because the Australian dollar gained in strength. In 2021, we were the 9th largest OECD economy, but the 13th largest donor.

Our aid rankings compared

The chart below summarizes our rankings among DAC members on three aid measures (aid volume, ODA/GNI and aid per capita). The chart shows that our ranking on ODA/GNI among aid donors has dropped twelve places lower than it was more than 20 years ago on generosity (from 9th in 1995 to 21th in 2021). On aid per capita, Australia also ranked lower compared to 20 years ago (from 14th  to 18th ), and on total aid volume we remained unchanged at 13th.

Read more on OECD DAC and how Australia performs among global donors on the Devpolicy Blog

Summary

  • As of 2021, Australia ranks 21st among 29 OECD DAC bilateral member countries on the generosity of its aid (measured using ODA as a percentage of GNI).
  • In 2021, Australia's aid accounted for 1.92% of total OECD DAC  aid.