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According to this Wikipedia page, Sweden is 6th largest country in spending on official development assistance (ODA), despite it is mere 21st to 23rd in terms of GDP. It is also #1 by the amount of ODA as a percentage of its GDP, at 1.4%, among OECD countries.

Why do they spend so much on ODA? It is even higher than other northern European countries (Denmark, Norway, Ireland, and Iceland), even though they are richer per capita base.

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    Another interesting question IMO is why developed countries' foreign aid (including that of Sweden?) has dropped as a percentage of GDP in the past decades. – Denis de Bernardy Aug 27 '17 at 20:15
  • You seem to imply that as Sweden gives relatively most ODA they are either the most altruistic country or they have another reason to do so. – Communisty Aug 28 '17 at 7:25
  • @DenisdeBernardy : That's worth creating a different question. Among the arguments I have heard : more concern about public spending as a whole, critics about how effective the help is and how the money is actually spent, and links between former colonial powers and former colonies loosening a bit over time. – Evargalo Aug 28 '17 at 10:12
  • @OlivierPucher: I'm not so sure the two questions are that different. I'd surmise that OP's question could actually read: why hasn't foreign aid dropped to rock bottom levels in a handful of rich European countries, most notably Sweden? – Denis de Bernardy Aug 28 '17 at 10:25
  • Looking back at the page history, part of the answer appears to be that Swden rocketed up their spending since 2010. @Denis : why are you assuming it dropped? – MSalters Aug 28 '17 at 11:34
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"Why do they spend so much on ODA? It is even higher than other northern European countries (Denmark, Norway, Ireland, and Iceland), even though they are richer per capita base."

For a large part, aid is an altruistic political goal. However, there are some pragmatic reasons for foreign aid.

Aid has a few benefits for the donor country. Development aid is supposed to increased stability, increased trade, reduce terrorism, reduce refugee crisis's etc. Aid is also a geopolitical bargaining chip.

The reason larger/richer countries give more aid is that cost of aid is proportionately low and the benefits are higher. Even if Iceland gave 50% of its GDP away ($10B), it would have a small effect on the world aid budget ($130B). And Iceland would receive only a small fraction of the benefits.

Its worth noting that the benefits of foreign aid are very hard to quantify, extremely diffuse and long term. If countries were purely motivated by self interest, then the US would give more than Sweden, so political motivations are the main driver here.

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    I don't think this answer provides any interesting information on why Sweden has a different policy than other countries. – Christian Sep 13 '17 at 9:26

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