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Foreign sectoral aid fungibility, growth and poverty reduction

  • Jan Pettersson

    (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

If development assistance targeted at specific sectors is not used as intended, aid is said to be fungible. While fungible aid is in general perceived as being less effective than aid used as specified, this has not been formally tested. This paper attempts at filling this gap and hence, tries to assess to what extent fungibility is something donors should be concerned about. Country-specific estimates of fungibility are obtained for 57 aid-recipient countries, suggesting that sectoral aid is indeed fungible on average. These estimates are then incorporated into an empirical model of aid and economic growth. I do not find any evidence of non-fungible sectoral aid working better than fungible aid. Then, I focus on sectoral aid to 'pro-poor' government expenditure sectors to assess the effect on infant mortality. While the results indicate that non-fungible aid is welfare improving, this is not robust to small changes in the specification. My results suggest that the concept of fungibility may be too narrow and should possibly not be the most central concern when aid is debated or given. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/jid.1378
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

Volume (Year): 19 (2007)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
Pages: 1074-1098

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:19:y:2007:i:8:p:1074-1098
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  1. Amartya Sen, 1995. "Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure," Papers innlec95/2, Innocenti Lectures.
  2. Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 2001. "Aid and growth regressions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 547-570, April.
  3. Swaroop, Vinaya & Jha, Shikha & Sunil Rajkumar, Andrew, 2000. "Fiscal effects of foreign aid in a federal system of governance: The case of India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 307-330, September.
  4. Pack, Howard & Pack, Janet Rothenberg, 1990. "Is Foreign Aid Fungible? The Case of Indonesia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 188-94, March.
  5. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  6. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
  7. Mark McGillivray & Oliver Morrissey, 2000. "Aid fungibility in Assessing Aid: red herring or true concern?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 413-428.
  8. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "The impact of public spending on health: does money matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(10), pages 1309-1323, November.
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