IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Where Has All the Money Gone? Foreign Aid and the Quest for Growth


  • Chatterjee, Santanu

    () (University of Georgia)

  • Giuliano, Paola

    () (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Kaya, Ilker

    () (University of Georgia)


This paper examines fungibility as a possible explanation for the "missing link" between foreign aid and economic growth. The composition of aid plays a crucial role in determining the composition of government spending and, consequently, the magnitude of fungibility and its impact on growth. Embedding fungibility as an equilibrium outcome in an endogenous growth framework, we show that the substitution away from domestic government investment is higher than from government consumption. This leads to a reduction in domestic productive public spending and completely offsets any positive impact that aid might have on growth. The main predictions of the model are tested using a panel dataset of 67 countries for 1972-2000. We find strong evidence of fungibility at the aggregate level: almost 70 percent of total aid is fungible in our sample. We also find that investment aid is more fungible than other categories of aid. In the presence of fungibility, there is no statistically significant relationship between foreign aid and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Chatterjee, Santanu & Giuliano, Paola & Kaya, Ilker, 2007. "Where Has All the Money Gone? Foreign Aid and the Quest for Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 2858, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2858

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pack, Howard & Pack, Janet Rothenberg, 1990. "Is Foreign Aid Fungible? The Case of Indonesia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 188-194, March.
    2. Tavares, Jose, 2003. "Does foreign aid corrupt?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 99-106, April.
    3. Svensson, Jakob, 2000. "Foreign aid and rent-seeking," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 437-461, August.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    5. 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 258-265, May.
    6. Easterly, William, 1999. "The ghost of financing gap: testing the growth model used in the international financial institutions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 423-438, December.
    7. C-J. Dalgaard & H. Hansen, 2001. "On Aid, Growth and Good Policies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 17-41.
    8. David Dollar & Craig Burnside, 2000. "Aid, Policies, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 847-868, September.
    9. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Swaroop, Vinaya & Heng-fu, Zou, 1996. "The composition of public expenditure and economic growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 313-344, April.
    10. Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2000. "Aid effectiveness disputed," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 375-398, April.
    11. Swaroop, Vinaya & Jha, Shikha & Sunil Rajkumar, Andrew, 2000. "Fiscal effects of foreign aid in a federal system of governance: The case of India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 307-330, September.
    12. Chatterjee, Santanu & Turnovsky, Stephen J., 2007. "Foreign aid and economic growth: The role of flexible labor supply," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 507-533, September.
    13. William Easterly, 2002. "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550423, January.
    14. C. S. Adam & S. A. O'Connell, 1999. "Aid, Taxation and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 225-253, November.
    15. Sajal Lahiri & Pascalis Raimondos-Møller, 2004. "Donor Strategy under the Fungibility of Foreign Aid," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 213-231, July.
    16. Boone, Peter, 1996. "Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 289-329, February.
    17. Chatterjee, Santanu & Sakoulis, Georgios & Turnovsky, Stephen J., 2003. "Unilateral capital transfers, public investment, and economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(6), pages 1077-1103, December.
    18. Feyzioglu, Tarhan & Swaroop, Vinaya & Zhu, Min, 1998. "A Panel Data Analysis of the Fungibility of Foreign Aid," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 29-58, January.
    19. William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
    20. Alexander Pivovarsky & Benedict J. Clements & Sanjeev Gupta & Erwin H Tiongson, 2003. "Foreign Aid and Revenue Response; Does the Composition of Aid Matter?," IMF Working Papers 03/176, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Pierre‐Richard Agénor & Devrim Yilmaz, 2013. "Aid Allocation, Growth And Welfare With Productive Public Goods," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 103-127, March.
    2. Carter, Patrick, 2014. "Aid allocation rules," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 132-151.
    3. Kaya, Ozgur & Kaya, Ilker & Gunter, Lewell F., 2008. "The Impact of Agricultural Aid on Agricultural Sector Growth," 2008 Annual Meeting, February 2-6, 2008, Dallas, Texas 6743, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    4. Richard Chisik & Nazanin Behzadan & Harun Onder & Apurva Sanghi, 2016. "Aid, Remittances, the Dutch Disease, Refugees, and Kenya," Working Papers 062, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
    5. Kitaura, Koji & Ogawa, Hikaru & Yakita, Sayaka, 2011. "Multiple equilibria arising from donor’s aid policy in economic development," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 819-827.
    6. Kitaura, Koji, 2009. "Child labor, education aid, and economic growth," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 614-620, December.
    7. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:3:p:627-663 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Karim Barkat & Zouhair Mrabet & Mouyad Alsamara, 2016. "Does Official Development Assistance for health from developed countries displace government health expenditure in Sub-Saharan countries?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(3), pages 1616-1635.
    9. Richard Chisik & Nazanin Behzadan, 2016. "Are Aid and Remittances Similar in Generating the Dutch Disease?," Working Papers 064, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
    10. Annen Kurt & Kosempel Stephen, 2009. "Foreign Aid, Donor Fragmentation, and Economic Growth," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-32, August.
    11. Łukasz Marć, 2017. "The Impact of Aid on Total Government Expenditures: New Evidence on Fungibility," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 627-663, August.
    12. Philippe Cyrenne & Manish Pandey, 2015. "Fiscal equalization, government expenditures and endogenous growth," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(2), pages 311-329, April.
    13. Lukasz Marc, 2012. "New Evidence on Fungibility at the Aggregate Level," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-083/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    14. Nicolas Van de Sijpe, 2013. "Is Foreign Aid Fungible? Evidence from the Education and Health Sectors," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 27(2), pages 320-356.

    More about this item


    foreign aid; economic growth; fiscal policy; fungibility;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2858. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.