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Another Look at Foreign Aid


  • Gustav Ranis

    () (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)


The discussion of the effectiveness of foreign aid has reached a high pitch. This paper assesses the sorry past and present key arguments for a potentially more effective and sustainable method of aid delivery. A key ingredient is to shake off the vestiges of structural adjustment and move towards true recipient country ownership complete with “self-conditionality” with aid recipients formulating their own reform packages. This means donors become much more passive, act like a bank and respond to proposals which concentrate on a few critical areas over a three to five-year period. Policy-based program lending should respond to packages put together by the main domestic stakeholders with the help, if necessary, of independent third parties. There should be no compulsion to lend; indeed, an aid hiatus is an indication that the new system is effective. What is required is for donors to stop using aid as a short-term foreign policy tool and for recipients to accept the notion that aid provides the opportunity to reduce the inevitable adjustment pains caused by real reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Gustav Ranis, 2012. "Another Look at Foreign Aid," Working Papers 1015, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David B. Skarbek and Peter T. Leeson, 2009. "What Can Aid Do?," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 29(3), pages 391-397, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Edomah, Norbert & Foulds, Chris & Jones, Aled, 2017. "Policy making and energy infrastructure change: A Nigerian case study of energy governance in the electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 476-485.

    More about this item


    foreign aid; self-conditionality; program lending; new donors;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • P45 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - International Linkages

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