Flows of Money Into and Out of Low and Middle Income Countries

In wealthy countries such as the UK we like to think that rich nations help poorer nations with aid and other types of development funding. We have millennium goals to eradicate poverty, surely we are helping our Southern neighbours develop sustainably?


Activists from the Global South tell a very different story. This map illustrates this counter-narrative using data from World Bank depicting the hidden flows of capital into and out of low and middle-income countries. It exposes the disturbing fact that rich nations extract significantly more money from the low and middle-income nations than they give in aid.

On visualizing.org

Servicing debt costs developing countries over five times more than they receive in aid. Wealthy countries do lend and sometimes give money to developing nations – but they also extract far greater wealth as debt servicing, profits to multi-nationals and illicit financial flows. Meanwhile, low and middle-income countries are exploited for cheap labour and natural resources. They are also increasingly subject to land grabs.


The significance of flows of aid to developing countries can only be properly understood in context and in comparison to the scale of these other flows of capital out of the developing world. By illustrating flows of aid into – and flows of capital out of, low and middle-income countries this image tells a more comprehensive story about aid, debt and development frameworks.


Rather than helping, rich nations have pushed the majority world into poverty. The G8 and the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have created financial policies that have effectively crippled low-income countries for decades. Odious debts draw capital from the poor into wealthy financial centres in rich nations. Billions of dollars are spent on aid in helping developing nations – but what does this aid achieve if as long as much larger amounts of money flow out of the developing world? Global social movements are calling for a Debt Jubilee. Unjust debts must be cancelled.


Many thanks to Tim Jones at the Jubilee Debt Campaign for his help with this project.

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