In our house, debt is useful, but also an enemy. We take it on when we have to, but try to pay it off as quickly as possible. To have the most impact, we pay highest interest debt first, and once that’s gone, next highest interest, etc.
What if the wealthy western world used a similar strategy to allocate scarce aid dollars? What one thing could we spend money on that would do the most good?
The Copenhagen Consensus asks that question, and every 4 years they evaluate submissions and choose the best way to help the world, based on impact per dollar spent. This year, 10 ideas were submitted, ranging from ending wars to abolishing diseases. The winner? Vitamin A and zinc supplements to the developing world’s children. Cost? $60 million, a tiny fraction of the western world’s combined development aid budget.
Spending money to address climate change that humans may or may not be causing all or part of? Bottom of their list, judged by impact per dollar spent.
Fascinating to the armchair economist in me …