Rhetoric versus reality: the best and worst of aid agency practices
AbstractForeign aid critics, supporters, recipients, and donors have produced eloquent rhetoric on the need for better aid practices— has this translated into reality? This paper attempts to monitor the best and worst of aid practices among bilateral, multilateral, and UN agencies. We create aid practice measures based on aid transparency, specialization, selectivity, ineffective aid channels, and overhead costs. We rate donor agencies from best to worst on aid practices. We find that the UK does well among bilateral agencies, the US is below average, and Scandinavian donors do surprisingly poorly. The biggest difference is between the UN agencies, who mostly rank in the bottom half of donors, and everyone else. Average performance of all agencies on transparency, fragmentation, and selectivity is still very poor. The paper also assesses trends in best practices over time—we find modest improvement in transparency and more in moving away from ineffective channels. However, we find no evidence of improvements (and partial evidence of worsening) in specialization, fragmentation, and selectivity, despite escalating rhetoric to the contrary.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 39139.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in World Development 11.39(2011): pp. 1930-1949
foreign aid; best practices; transparency; bureaucracy; incentives;
Other versions of this item:
- Easterly, William & Williamson, Claudia R., 2011. "Rhetoric versus Reality: The Best and Worst of Aid Agency Practices," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(11), pages 1930-1949.
- O1 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
- F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Simeon Djankov & José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005.
"The curse of aid,"
257, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Knack, Stephen & Rahman, Aminur, 2007.
"Donor fragmentation and bureaucratic quality in aid recipients,"
Journal of Development Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 176-197, May.
- Knack, Stephen & Rahman, Aminur, 2004. "Donor fragmentation and bureaucratic quality in aid recipients," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3186, The World Bank.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Yared, Pierre, 2005.
"Income and Democracy,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
5273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- William Easterly, 2007. "Are aid agencies improving?," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 22, pages 633-678, October.
- Stephen Knack, 2001. "Aid Dependence and the Quality of Governance: Cross-Country Empirical Tests," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 310-329, October.
- Boone, Peter, 1996. "Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 289-329, February.
- World Bank & International Monetary Fund, 2010. "Global Monitoring Report 2010 : The MDGs after the Crisis," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2444, October.
- Jac C. Heckelman & Stephen Knack, 2008.
"Foreign Aid and Market-Liberalizing Reform,"
London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(299), pages 524-548, 08.
- Brautigam, Deborah A & Knack, Stephen, 2004. "Foreign Aid, Institutions, and Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(2), pages 255-85, January.
- Harold J. Brumm, 2003. "Aid, Policies, and Growth: Bauer Was Right," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 23(2), pages 167-174, Fall.
- Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2002.
"Aid allocation and poverty reduction,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1475-1500, September.
- Simeon Djankov & Jose G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2006. "Does Foreign Aid Help," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 26(1), pages 1-28, Winter.
- José Cheibub & Jennifer Gandhi & James Vreeland, 2010. "Democracy and dictatorship revisited," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 67-101, April.
- Martens,Bertin & Mummert,Uwe & Murrell,Peter & Seabright,Paul, 2002.
"The Institutional Economics of Foreign Aid,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521808187, October.
- Knack, Stephen & Rogers, F. Halsey & Eubank, Nicholas, 2010.
"Aid quality and donor rankings,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
5290, The World Bank.
- Svensson, Jakob, 1998.
"Foreign aid and rent-seeking,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1880, The World Bank.
- Claudia R. Williamson, 2008. "Foreign Aid and Human Development: The Impact of Foreign Aid to the Health Sector," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 188-207, July.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006.
"Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details,"
122247000000001139, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 319-324, May.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," CESifo Working Paper Series 1672, CESifo Group Munich.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," Working Papers 302, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," NBER Working Papers 11993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," CEPR Discussion Papers 5499, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Emmanuel Frot & Javier Santiso, 2008. "Development Aid and Portfolio Funds: Trends, Volatility and Fragmentation," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 275, OECD Publishing.
- Dollar, David & Levin, Victoria, 2006. "The Increasing Selectivity of Foreign Aid, 1984-2003," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2034-2046, December.
- William Easterly & Tobias Pfutze, 2008. "Where Does the Money Go? Best and Worst Practices in Foreign Aid," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 29-52, Spring.
- Andreas Fuchs & Axel Dreher & Peter Nunnenkamp, 2012.
"Determinants of Donor Generosity: A Survey of the Aid Budget Literature,"
Kiel Working Papers
1789, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
- Fuchs, Andreas & Dreher, Axel & Nunnenkamp, Peter, 2014. "Determinants of Donor Generosity: A Survey of the Aid Budget Literature," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 172-199.
- Andreas Fuchs & Axel Dreher & Peter Nunnenkamp, 2012. "Determinants of Donor Generosity: A Survey of the Aid Budget Literature," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 121, Courant Research Centre PEG.
- Jones, Kelly M., 2011.
"Evaluating the Mexico city policy: How US foreign policy affects fertility outcomes and child health in Ghana,"
IFPRI discussion papers
1147, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Jones, Kelly M., 2013. "Contraceptive supply and fertility outcomes: evidence from Ghana," MPRA Paper 55184, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Frot, Emmanuel & Olofsgård, Anders & Berlin, Maria Perrotta, 2014.
"Aid Effectiveness in Times of Political Change: Lessons from the Post-Communist Transition,"
Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 127-138.
- Olofsgård, Anders & Perrotta, Maria & Frot, Emmanuel, 2013. "Aid E ectiveness in Times of Political Change: Lessons from the Post-Communist Transition," SITE Working Paper Series 25, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, Stockholm School of Economics.
- Kurt Annen & Luc Moers, 2012. "Donor Competition for Aid Impact, and Aid Fragmentation," IMF Working Papers 12/204, International Monetary Fund.
- Fuchs, Andreas & Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya, 2013.
"The Needy Donor: An Empirical Analysis of India’s Aid Motives,"
Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 110-128.
- Fuchs, Andreas & Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya, 2012. "The Needy Donor: An Empirical Analysis of India’s Aid Motives," Working Papers 0532, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
- Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso & Felicitas Nowak-Lehmann D. & Stephan Klasen & Florian Johannsen, 2013. "Does German Development Aid Promote German Exports and German Employment? A Sectoral-Level Analysis," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 227, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research, revised 18 Dec 2013.
- Kablan, Sandrine, 2013. "Foreign aid, green cities and buildings," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Andrew McNee, 2012. "Rethinking Health Sector Wide Approaches through the lens of Aid Effectiveness," Development Policy Centre Discussion Papers 1214, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
- Zohid Askarov & Hristos Doucouliagos, 2013. "Does aid improve democracy and governance? A meta-regression analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 601-628, December.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.