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Politics and the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid

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  • Peter Boone

Abstract

Critics of foreign aid programs have long argued that poverty reflects government failure. In this paper I analyze the effectiveness of foreign aid programs to gain insights into political regimes in aid recipient countries. My analytical framework shows how three stylized political/economic regimes labeled egalitarian, elitist and laissez-faire would use foreign aid. I then test reduced form equations using data on nonmilitary aid flows to 96 countries. I find that models of elitist political regimes best predict the impact of foreign aid. Aid does not significantly increase investment and growth, nor benefit the poor as measured by improvements in human development indicators, but it does increase the size of government. I also find that the impact of aid does not vary according to whether recipient governments are liberal democracies or highly repressive. But liberal political regimes and democracies, ceteris paribus, have on average 30% lower infant mortality than the least free regimes. This may be due to greater empowerment of the poor under liberal regimes eve though the political elite continues to receive the benefits of aid programs. An implication is that short term aid targeted to support new liberal regimes may be a more successful means of reducing poverty than current programs.

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  • Peter Boone, 1995. "Politics and the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid," CEP Discussion Papers dp0272, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0272
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2004. "Serbia and Montenegro : An Agenda for Economic Growth and Employment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14487, The World Bank.
    2. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Rajkumar, Andrew Sunil & Swaroop, Vinaya, 1999. "What does aid to Africa finance?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2092, The World Bank.
    3. Kilby, Christopher, 2015. "Assessing the impact of World Bank preparation on project outcomes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 111-123.
    4. Kilby, Christopher & Dreher, Axel, 2010. "The impact of aid on growth revisited: Do donor motives matter?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 338-340, June.
    5. Christopher Kilby, 2012. "Assessing the contribution of donor agencies to aid effectiveness: The impact of World Bank preparation on project outcomes," Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series 20, Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics.
    6. Buch, Claudia M. & Kuckulenz, Anja & Le Manchec, Marie-Helene, 2002. "Worker Remittances and Capital Flows," Kiel Working Papers 1130, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    7. Pauline Dixon, 2013. "International Aid and Private Schools for the Poor," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15122, April.
    8. Philipp Harms & Matthias Lutz, 2004. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Foreign Aid: A Survey," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2004 2004-11, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.

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