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Cultural values and public policy: The case of international development aid


  • Ball, Richard


This paper investigates whether the quantity and character of aggregate expenditures on foreign aid by donor governments are related to the cultural values held by the people of the donor countries. In particular, we study whether any association exists between three measures of donors' foreign aid expenditures and two dimensions of culture. We find that the shares of national income governments spend on aid, the proportion of total aid provided in the form of grants, and the proportion of aid directed to humanitarian relief are all related in statistically significant and quantitatively important ways to the location of the cultural values of people in the donor countries on two continua, one from "traditional" to "rational" beliefs about social organization and authority, and the other from "survival" to "self-expression" as the focus of individual aspirations. These results contribute to our understanding of the political economy of aid, and to a growing literature on how culture shapes economic policies, institutions, and performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Ball, Richard, 2010. "Cultural values and public policy: The case of international development aid," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-16, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:quaeco:v:50:y:2010:i:1:p:3-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert K. Fleck & Christopher Kilby, 2006. "How Do Political Changes Influence US Bilateral Aid Allocations? Evidence from Panel Data," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(2), pages 210-223, May.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Dollar, David, 2000. "Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 33-63, March.
    3. Destler, I. M., 1978. "United States food policy 1972–1976: reconciling domestic and international objectives," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(03), pages 617-653, June.
    4. Dudley, Leonard & Montmarquette, Claude, 1976. "A Model of the Supply of Bilateral Foreign Aid," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(1), pages 132-142, March.
    5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
    6. Maizels, Alfred & Nissanke, Machiko K., 1984. "Motivations for aid to developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 12(9), pages 879-900, September.
    7. Paxton, Pamela & Knack, Stephen, 2008. "Individual and country-level factors affecting support for foreign aid," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4714, The World Bank.
    8. Chong, Alberto & Gradstein, Mark, 2008. "What determines foreign aid? The donors' perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 1-13, August.
    9. Eggleston, Robert C., 1987. "Determinants of the levels and distribution of PL 480 food aid: 1955-1979," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 797-808, June.
    10. Round, Jeffery I. & Odedokun, Matthew, 2004. "Aid effort and its determinants," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 293-309.
    11. Beenstock, Michael, 1980. "Political econometry of official development assistance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 137-144, February.
    12. Ball, Richard & Johnson, Christopher, 1996. "Political, Economic, and Humanitarian Motivations for PL 480 Food Aid: Evidence from Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(3), pages 515-537, April.
    13. Trumbull, William N & Wall, Howard J, 1994. "Estimating Aid-Allocation Criteria with Panel Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 876-882, July.
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:04:p:1099-1120_20 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Lewellyn, Krista B. & Bao, Shuji ‘Rosey’, 2014. "A cross-national investigation of IPO activity: The role of formal institutions and national culture," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1167-1178.
    2. Era Dabla-Norris & Camelia Minoiu & Luis-Felipe Zanna, 2010. "Business Cycle Fluctuations, Large Shocks, and Development Aid; New Evidence," IMF Working Papers 10/240, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Dabla-Norris, Era & Minoiu, Camelia & Zanna, Luis-Felipe, 2015. "Business Cycle Fluctuations, Large Macroeconomic Shocks, and Development Aid," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 44-61.
    4. Jones, Sam, 2015. "Aid Supplies Over Time: Addressing Heterogeneity, Trends, and Dynamics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 31-43.


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