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Earlier this week I stumbled across some data sets which led me to conclude that in Canada and the US, conservative governments spend more on aid.  In part, I was right.  In another part, I was very very wrong.

What I got right was that in a strict analysis of US government spending, in constant dollars, Republican administrations spend more on aid than Democratic ones do.

What I got wrong was the Canadian analysis.  As pointed out by Cynan Houghton, the constant US dollars data did not take into account the considerable fluctuations in exchange rates.  So I sent Kavya-the-Executive-Assistant back to the drawing board and asked her to compare Conservative vs Liberal spending on ODA as a percentage of the total federal budget.  What she came back with was this:

Hmmm, not so generous.

If I had the time right now, I would go back and redo the US spending too, but it’s been a busy week.  Expect it soon.

So, what have we learned?

a) Exchange rates change everything when comparing ODA.  Something to keep in mind when diving deep into the vast amounts of aid data which are now being put up on the web by the OECD or AidData, or Google, and others.

b) In the case of Canada, we can’t arrive at the conclusion that Conservatives (or Liberals) have been prioritizing aid spending any more than the other.

c) Cynan is a smart guy.

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  1. […] UPDATE to the UPDATE: It is indeed a huge hole.  I attempt to fill it here. […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cynan Houghton, Scott Gilmore. Scott Gilmore said: New blog post wherein I admit guilt, fix data, thank @cynan_sez, then slink off into the corner. […]

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