By Deputy Editor Tom Murphy
What do Americans think about the role of the US in global health? A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released today sought to answer that question.
As you may already know, Americans are terrible at guessing how much of the US budget is spent on foreign assistance. Previous surveys put the estimates of Americans into the 10 to 20 percent range. The latest from KFF shows an even higher average with people surveyed estimating 27% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid.
As the chart illustrates, the reality of foreign aid spending is vastly different than its perception. Recent studies show the impact that 1% of the US budget has in developing countries. A Stanford University School of Medicine study determined that PEPFAR saved 740,000 lives between 2004 and 2008. Also, an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute uncovered dramatic changes for every $10 million less spent on international family planning assistance. Despite representing a small sliver of the federal budget, foreign aid does a lot of good and it is especially true in the area of public health.
When people are explained how much is actually spent on foreign aid and the impact it has, attitudes quickly swing towards support.
The number of people who thought too little was spent on foreign aid doubled when learning that only 1% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid. Looking into global health questions, the survey shows the potential for building greater support in this area as opposed to foreign aid in general.