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Aid and agency in Africa: Explaining food disbursements across Ethiopian households, 1994–2004

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  • Broussard, Nzinga H.
  • Dercon, Stefan
  • Somanathan, Rohini

Abstract

We use a principal–agent framework and data from the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey between 1994 and 2004 to understand biases in the distribution of food aid in Ethiopia. We show that even when aid is systematically misallocated, aid recipients may match official classifications of needy households if agents deviate from allocation rules in ways that are difficult to monitor. Agent behavior is therefore best understood by comparing aid along dimensions of need that are visible to the principal with those that are difficult to observe outside the village. We do this by using data on a panel of 943 households observed over six rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey. In support of our model, we find that while the demographics of aid recipients do match official criteria, disbursements are increasing in pre-aid consumption, self-reported power and involvement in village-level organizations. We conclude that the extent to which food aid insulates some of the world's poorest families from agricultural shocks depends on a nuanced interaction of policy constraints and informal structures of local power.

Suggested Citation

  • Broussard, Nzinga H. & Dercon, Stefan & Somanathan, Rohini, 2014. "Aid and agency in Africa: Explaining food disbursements across Ethiopian households, 1994–2004," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 128-137.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:108:y:2014:i:c:p:128-137
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.02.003
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    1. Stefan Dercon & Daniel O. Gilligan & John Hoddinott & Tassew Woldehanna, 2009. "The Impact of Agricultural Extension and Roads on Poverty and Consumption Growth in Fifteen Ethiopian Villages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1007-1021.
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    6. Jayne, Thomas S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2002. "Targeting of food aid in rural Ethiopia: chronic need or inertia?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 247-288, August.
    7. Bardhan, Pranab & Mookherjee, Dilip, 2005. "Decentralizing antipoverty program delivery in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 675-704, April.
    8. Jayne, T. S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2001. "Giving to the Poor? Targeting of Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 887-910, May.
    9. James Levinsohn & Margaret McMillan, 2007. "Does Food Aid Harm the Poor? Household Evidence from Ethiopia," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 561-598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. del Ninno, Carlo & Dorosh, Paul A. & Subbarao, Kalanidhi, 2007. "Food aid, domestic policy and food security: Contrasting experiences from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 413-435, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Newman Carol & Zhang Mengyang, 2015. "Connections and the Allocation of Public Benefits," WIDER Working Paper Series 031, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:4:p:e147-e174 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:bla:agecon:v:49:y:2018:i:1:p:13-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Urquía-Grande, Elena & Rubio-Alcocer, Antonio, 2015. "Agricultural infrastructure donation performance: Empirical evidence in rural Ethiopia," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 245-254.
    5. Ferrière, Nathalie & Suwa-Eisenmann, Akiko, 2015. "Does Food Aid Disrupt Local Food Market? Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 114-131.
    6. Christian Bommer & Axel Dreher & Marcello Perez-Alvarez, "undated". "Home bias in humanitarian aid: The role of regional favoritism in the allocation of international disaster relief," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 266, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    7. Christian Bommer & Axel Dreher & Marcello Perez-Alvarez, 2018. "Regional and Ethnic Favoritism in the Allocation of Humanitarian Aid," CESifo Working Paper Series 7038, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Alem, Yonas & Broussard, Nzinga H., 2013. "Do Safety Nets Promote Technology Adoption? Panel data evidence from rural Ethiopia," Working Papers in Economics 556, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food-aid; Poverty; Social transfers; Targeting;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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