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Monday, October 03, 2005

we're rich, bitch!

As has been widely reported (in other words the Crimson article was sent to many lists), Harvard's endowment has now reached about 26 billion dollars. I don't think that sinks in for a lot of us, so why don't we think of it this way: if Harvard were a country, and its endowment were its GDP (a parallel of net worth, let's say), it would be the 67th wealthiest country in the world. Some of the countries it is richer than: Guatemala, Syria, Sudan, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Kenya, Jordan, Iceland, Ghana etc. etc.

Now, considering that, a few things Harvard claims it cannot afford: healthcare benefits for all of its workers, a living wage for all of its workers, the payment of its fair share of property taxes to the city of Cambridge (it gets out of them because it is a non-profit, and "voluntarily donates" a much smaller percentage than it would otherwise have to pay), a Women's Center, a student center.

I'm sure I'm missing a lot of things. Any ideas?

2 Comments:

At 9:28 PM, Blogger Lisi said...

Wow. it was 18 billion during our freshman year. that shit is growing at a fast rate.

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Stephen Dewey said...

I've always been a bit concerned about the comparison between an organization's net worth and a country's GDP. It's not just groups trying to prove that Harvard can afford everything that do it - the political economists in my Hist-Study A-12 class (international conflict/cooperation) also did that to attempt to prove that corporations are surpassing countries in power.

But the reality is that a high GDP and a high endowment are not at all equivalent. A high GDP shows how much is produced in a country EVERY YEAR. An endowment shows the total amount of money gained over the entire course of the university's existence (365+ years). So they're really different.

 

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