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Aid dependence reconsidered

  • Jean-Paul Azam
  • Shantayanan Devarajan
  • Stephen A. O'Connell

If foreign aid undermines institutional development, aid recipients can exhibit the symptoms of “dependence”-a short-run benefit from aid, but increasing need for aid that is damaging in the long run. We show that this high-aid/weakinstitutions state can be an equilibrium outcome even when donors and recipients fully anticipate the effect of aid on institutional development. However, a lowaid/ strong-institutions outcome is also possible, so that the model encompasses the diverse foreign-aid experiences of countries like the Republic of Korea and Tanzania. When the development community ignores the effect of aid on institutions, the outcome depends strongly on initial conditions. Where institutions are already weak, institutional capacity collapses and foreign aid eventually finances the entire public budget. Where they are initially stronger, the result can be close to the institutionssensitive equilibrium. The results suggest that foreign aid strategies, even for countries with similar per capita incomes, should be differentiated according to their institutional capacity; and that a short-run reduction in aid may increase a country’s chances of graduating from aid.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 1999-05.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:1999-05
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  1. Henry J. Bruton, 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 903-936, June.
  2. Bruton, H.J., 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Center for Development Economics 156, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  3. Kent P. Kimbrough, 1986. "Foreign Aid and Optimal Fiscal Policy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(1), pages 35-61, February.
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