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The Effects of Foreign Aid in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Robert Gillanders

    (Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)


This paper contributes to the aid effectiveness debate by applying a vector autoregression model to a panel of Sub-Saharan African countries. This method avoids the need for instrumental variables and allows one to analyse the effect of foreign aid on human development and on economic development simultaneously. The full sample results indicate a small increase in economic growth following a fairly substantial aid shock. The size of the effect puts the result somewhere between the arguments of aid optimists and those of aid pessimists. Human development, for which I use the growth rate of life expectancy as a proxy, responds positively to aid shocks in democracies.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Gillanders, 2016. "The Effects of Foreign Aid in Sub-Saharan Africa," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 47(3), pages 339-360.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:47:y:2016:i:3:p:339-360

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil R. Bhavnani & Samuel Bazzi, 2012. "Counting Chickens when they Hatch: Timing and the Effects of Aid on Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 590-617, June.
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    9. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2004. "On The Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages 191-216, June.
    10. Karuna Gomanee & Sourafel Girma & Oliver Morrissey, 2005. "Aid, public spending and human welfare: evidence from quantile regressions," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 299-309.
    11. Robert Osei & Oliver Morrissey & Tim Lloyd, 2005. "The fiscal effects of aid in Ghana," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(8), pages 1037-1053.
    12. Gomanee, Karuna & Morrissey, Oliver & Mosley, Paul & Verschoor, Arjan, 2005. "Aid, Government Expenditure, and Aggregate Welfare," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 355-370, March.
    13. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2002. "Aid allocation and poverty reduction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1475-1500, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jones, Yakama Manty, 2013. "Testing the foreign aid-led growth hypothesis in West Africa," MPRA Paper 50361, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lof, Matthijs & Mekasha, Tseday Jemaneh & Tarp, Finn, 2015. "Aid and Income: Another Time-series Perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 19-30.
    4. Lof, Matthijs & Mekasha, Tseday Jemaneh & Tarp, Finn, 2015. "Rejoinder to Herzer, Nowak-Lehmann, Dreher, Klasen, and Martinez-Zarzoso (2014)," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 397-399.
    5. Yakama Manty Jones, 2013. "Testing the Foreign Aid-led Growth Hypothesis in West Africa," Management Working Papers 3, Birkbeck Department of Management, revised Apr 2013.
    6. Ziesemer, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of development aid on education and health: Survey and new evidence from dynamic models," MERIT Working Papers 057, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    7. Gravier-Rymaszewska, Joanna, 2012. "How Aid Supply Responds to Economic Crises: A Panel VAR Approach," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Herzer, Dierk & Nowak-Lehmann, Felicitas & Dreher, Axel & Klasen, Stephan & Martinez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada, 2015. "Comment on Lof, Mekasha, and Tarp (2014)," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 389-396.

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    foreign aid; sub-Saharan Africa;


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