I found this chart astounding:
Using CIA World Factbook estimates for population, the private giving per person in the top three countries was:
- USA - ≈$114
- Britain - ≈$22
- Germany - ≈$19.50
Here I would add two cents to the $34 billion pile:
- Economists often talk of "crowding out," which was originally a theory about how government borrowing might crowd out private investment, but has since become a general term to describe how when a government engages in an activity, it usually (if not always) will have the effect of discouraging private efforts in that activity. It is worth noting that the US is often criticized for having a low percentage of federal foreign aid as a percentage of GDP relative to other OECD countries, but it is perhaps by virtue of this low level of federal charity that so much private charity takes place.
- In line with this, a strong case can be made that over time, a government's crowding out of a private activity has the effect of changing the public's views towards that activity from something that requires personal attention to just another public service that needn't be worried about. This shifting of responsibility and the subsequent indifference it engenders (i.e. "The government will handle it") has an especially baneful effect on charity, I fear.