Foreign Aid and Regime Change: A Role for Donor Intent
This paper uses data from the AidData project to analyze the association between foreign aid and the likelihood of democratization in aid recipients. Previous studies have argued that aid can entrench dictatorships, making a transition less likely. I find evidence that the relationship between aid and democratization depends on characteristics of the aid donor. During the period from 1992 to 2007, aid from democratic donors is often found to be associated with an increase in the likelihood of a democratic transition. This is consistent with a scenario in which aid promotes democratization and/or a situation in which democratic donors reward countries that take steps in a democratic direction. In either case, it suggests that democratic donors use scarce aid resources to encourage democracy. During the same period, aid from authoritarian donors exhibits a negative relationship with democratization. This suggests that the source of funding matters, with donor preferences regarding democracy helping to determine the link between aid and democratization.
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