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The Politics Of Foreign Aid


  • Meyer, Wolfgang

    (University of Cincinnati)

  • Raimondos-Møller, Pascalis

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)


Why do donor countries give foreign aid? The answers found in the literature are: (i) because donor countries care for recipient countries (e.g. altruism), and/or (ii) because there exist distortions that make the indirect gains from foreign aid (e.g. terms of trade effects) to be larger than the direct losses. This paper proposes a third answer to the above question, namely that aid is determined through the domestic political process of the donor country. The paper demonstrates how foreign aid affects the donor country’s income distribution and how, in a direct democracy, the majority of voters might benefit from foreign aid giving even though the country’s social welfare is reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Meyer, Wolfgang & Raimondos-Møller, Pascalis, 1999. "The Politics Of Foreign Aid," Working Papers 04-1999, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:cbsnow:1999_004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lahiri, Sajal & Raimondos-Moller, Pascalis, 2000. "Lobbying by Ethnic Groups and Aid Allocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 62-79, March.
    2. Bhagwati, Jagdish N & Brecher, Richard A & Hatta, Tatsuo, 1983. "The Generalized Theory of Transfers and Welfare: Bilateral Transfers in a Multilateral World," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 606-618, September.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Dollar, David, 2000. "Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 33-63, March.
    4. Elhanan Helpman, 1995. "Politics and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 5309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David Dollar & Craig Burnside, 2000. "Aid, Policies, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 847-868, September.
    6. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-985, December.
    7. Boone, Peter, 1996. "Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 289-329, February.
    8. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lahiri, Sajal & Raimondos-Moller, Paschalis, 1999. "Special interest politics and aid fungibility," Economics Discussion Papers 10001, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    foreign aid; politics; majority voting.;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid

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