The paper challenges one of the pet arguments used by aid skeptics who want the UK government to renege on their promise to spend 0.7% of national income on aid: the argument that 0.7 is an arbitrary number.
Is it really fair to single out 0.7 as a number that is ‘arbitrary’? Is it any more arbitrary than the other numbers that we use to set goals, establish rules and guide behaviour?
Using examples from the worlds of sport, public health and education, the paper describes numbers which, like 0.7, have a long-established, historic basis. The reasons these numbers were originally decided upon have now eclipsed by the fact that they have achieved such wide acceptance. The meaning of these numbers is bolstered by the depth of their establishment and long-standing. In this context, the paper argues that 0.7 is not arbitrary but an accepted number.