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Aid and Growth: What Does the Cross-Country Evidence Really Show?

  • Raghuram Rajan
  • Arvind Subramanian

We examine the effects of aid on growth-- in cross-sectional and panel data--after correcting for the bias that aid typically goes to poorer countries, or to countries after poor performance. Even after this correction, we find little robust evidence of a positive (or negative) relationship between aid inflows into a country and its economic growth. We also find no evidence that aid works better in better policy or geographical environments, or that certain forms of aid work better than others. Our findings, which relate to the past, do not imply that aid cannot be beneficial in the future. But they do suggest that for aid to be effective in the future, the aid apparatus will have to be rethought. Our findings raise the question: what aspects of aid offset what ought to be the indisputable growth enhancing effects of resource transfers? Thus, our findings support efforts under way at national and international levels to understand and improve aid effectiveness.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 05/127.

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Length: 48
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/127
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  1. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
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  7. Romain Wacziarg & Karen Horn Welch, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Growth: New Evidence," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(2), pages 187-231, June.
  8. Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2014. "What Undermines Aid’s Impact on Growth?," Working Papers id:6191, eSocialSciences.
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  12. Easterly, William, 2005. "National Policies and Economic Growth: A Reappraisal," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 1015-1059 Elsevier.
  13. 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.
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  15. 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.
  16. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New doubts: A Comment on Burnside and Dollar's "Aid, Policies, and Growth" (2000)," NBER Working Papers 9846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "I Just Ran Four Million Regressions," NBER Working Papers 6252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Svensson, Jakob, 2003. "Why conditional aid does not work and what can be done about it?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 381-402, April.
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  21. Tavares, Jose, 2003. "Does foreign aid corrupt?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 99-106, April.
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  23. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
  24. William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
  25. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 1999. "Aid allocation and poverty reduction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2041, The World Bank.
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