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Aid Effectiveness, Debt Relief and Public Finance Response: Evidence from a panel of HIPC Countries

  • Cassimon, Danny
  • Van Campenhout, Bjorn

Through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, substantial amounts of debt relief have been granted to a set of low-income countries as an alternative instrument of aid delivery. The theoretical (and moral) arguments in favour of debt relief are well established. However, the question whether debt relief is a more effective instrument of development assistance in practice is an empirical question. Hence, in this paper we investigate, for a panel of 28 decision point HIPC countries, the intertemporal linkages between debt relief and other fiscal variables such as current expenditure, government investment, taxation and domestic borrowing, in comparison to the effects of more traditional forms of development assistance, namely (non-debt relief) grants and concessional loans. To do so, we estimate a panel VAR and look at impulse response functions. Overall, we find that HIPC (only) debt relief impact on fiscal variables to follow fairly complex dynamics. For example, debt relief initially reduces government investment, but the effect becomes positive after two years, well outperforming other modes of aid delivery.

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Paper provided by Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) in its series IOB Working Papers with number 2006.02.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iob:wpaper:2006002
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  1. Jeremy Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1989. "Sovereign Debt Repurchases: No Cure for Overhang," NBER Working Papers 2850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cashel-Cordo, Peter & Craig, Steven G., 1990. "The public sector impact of international resource transfers," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 17-42, January.
  3. Nancy Birdsall & Stijn Claessens & Ishac Diwan, 2002. "Policy Selectivity Foregone: Debt and Donor Behavior in Africa," Working Papers 17, Center for Global Development.
  4. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Financing vs. Forgiving a Debt Overhang," NBER Working Papers 2486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Cassimon, Danny & Vaessen, Jos, 2007. "Theory, practice and potential of debt for development swaps in the Asian and Pacific region," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 12-34, March.
  6. Cohen, Daniel, 1996. "The sustainability of African debt," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1621, The World Bank.
  7. Peter S. Heller, 2005. "Understanding Fiscal Space," IMF Policy Discussion Papers 05/4, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Ndikumana, Leonce, 2004. "Additionality of debt relief and debt forgiveness, and implications for future volumes of official assistance," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 325-340.
  9. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  10. Alexander Pivovarsky & Benedict J. Clements & Sanjeev Gupta & Erwin Tiongson, 2003. "Foreign Aid and Revenue Response; Does the Composition of Aid Matter?," IMF Working Papers 03/176, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Pack, Howard & Pack, Janet Rothenberg, 1993. "Foreign Aid and the Question of Fungibility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 258-65, May.
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