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What is principled aid?

Principled aid is a way of exhibiting smart development power in a world filled with crises and uncertainties. It cannot be taken for granted when the goal of winning allies, defending democracy and safeguarding supply chains is increasingly ensnaring development cooperation.

The Principled Aid Index measures countries’ commitment to advancing their long-term enlightened self-interest. A high rank indicates that a country recognises how its own interests in global stability, prosperity and resilience are tied to the success and wellbeing of other nations.

About the 2023 Index

Due to data lags, the 2023 Index captures allocations recorded in 2021, the most recent year for which there is confirmed data. This means it captures allocations made during the acute phase of Covid-19 and does not include donor responses to the Ukraine conflict.

As indicators are calculated as shares of official development assistance (ODA), a country with low ODA has as much a chance of being principled as a high ODA-spending country. This makes the Index agnostic to ODA measurement changes, which some suggest risk overstating the proportion of loans counted as ODA.

Read more about the changes to indicators in the 2023 update.

Download the 2023 Principled Aid Index data.

Key trends

  • Wealthy countries noticeably increased their “principled” aid spending during the Covid pandemic.
  • This was largely driven by increases in social spending to countries in serious financial distress, greater investment in controlling communicable diseases and less aid allocated for geostrategic reasons.
  • Sweden is the most principled aid spender, topping the rankings for the first time. Ireland drops to second.
  • Higher ranked donors' scores have declined relative to lower ranked, newer DAC members. Greece and Slovenia – the two bottom-ranked countries – made dramatic improvements.
A look at the key trends revealed by the updated index, and what to expect from future aid allocations.

In a weaponised world, smart development power is not dead

A look at the main trends revealed by the updated index, and what to expect from future aid spending.
Read more about the 2023 Index

2020 resources

2019 resources

Principled Aid Index 2019 explained

The Principled Aid Index analyses aid spending by countries' actual deeds, not their declarations.

Principled Aid Index

The Principled Aid Index: understanding donor motivations

We examine the degree to which donors use Official Development Assistance to contribute to a safer, more sustainable and more prosperous world.
Read more