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Government Policy and the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid

  • Robert G. Murphy


    (Boston College)

  • Nicholas G. Tresp

    (UBS Investment Bank)

This paper reconsiders the role of economic policy in determining the effectiveness of foreign aid for generating economic growth in developing countries. We update and modify the data set originally used by Burnside and Dollar (2000) in order to more fully consider the critique presented by Easterly et al. (2004). Our findings suggest that the relationship among foreign aid, government policy, and economic growth is tenuous and depends importantly on the subset of countries included in the analysis. Good policy enhances the effectiveness of foreign aid in spurring growth when we use the original set of countries included in Burnside and Dollar, but this relationship disappears for an expanded set of countries. Because the relationship among aid, policy, and growth is likely to be nonlinear, we present an alternative probit model emphasizing growth thresholds. Our results from this alternative analysis confirm the conclusions of Easterly et al., finding little support for the view that good policy increases the probability that foreign aid contributes to growth.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 647.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 09 Aug 2006
Date of revision: 29 Aug 2006
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:647
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  1. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2001. "On the Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-13, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
  2. William Easterly & Sergio Rebelo, 1993. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 4499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  4. William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
  5. Stanley Fischer, 1993. "The Role of Macroeconomic Factors in Growth," NBER Working Papers 4565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. R. Lensink & H. White, 2001. "Are There Negative Returns to Aid?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 42-65.
  7. Boone, Peter, 1996. "Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 289-329, February.
  8. C-J. Dalgaard & H. Hansen, 2001. "On Aid, Growth and Good Policies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 17-41.
  9. Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Lisa CHAUVET, 1999. "Aid and Performance: A Reassessment," Working Papers 199910, CERDI.
  10. Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997. "Aid, policies, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1777, The World Bank.
  11. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2000. "Aid effectiveness disputed," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 375-398.
  13. Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 2000. "Aid and Growth Regressions," MPRA Paper 62288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Griffin, Keith, 1973. "The Effect of Aid and Other Resource Transfers on Savings and Growth in Less-Developed Countries: A Comment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 83(331), pages 863-66, September.
  15. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2004. "Aid, Policies, and Growth: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 774-780, June.
  16. 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.
  17. Papanek, Gustav F, 1973. "Aid, Foreign Private Investment, Savings, and Growth in Less Developed Countries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 120-30, Jan.-Feb..
  18. Levy, Victor, 1987. "Does Concessionary Aid Lead to Higher Investment Rates in Low-Income Countries?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 152-56, February.
  19. Newlyn, Walter T, 1973. "The Effect of Aid and Other Resource Transfers on Savings and Growth in Less-Developed Countries: A Comment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 83(331), pages 867-69, September.
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