IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Survey of Foreign Aid: History, Trends and Allocation


  • Peter Hjertholm

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Howard White

    (University of Sussex, IDS)


This paper (i) traces the historical origins of foreign aid, (ii) investigates tren­ds in the volume, composition, allocation and quality of aid flows, and (iii) reviews the empirical literature on aid allocation. The paper concludes that, historically, aid has served a multitude of objectives. For some donors, the allocation and quality of aid have been largely shaped by concern for the development needs of recipients. By contrast, the foreign aid of some larger donors has been used principally as a foreign and commercial policy tool. Yet while this particular character of aid flows may well have impaired the effectiveness of aid, there is no automatic contradiction between donor and recipient objectives. Perhaps the most important change in the aid picture is the reversal after 1992 of the historic upward trend in aid volumes. This may not be a problem when smaller aid flows are compensated by private flows, as has happened in several developing countries. Yet it may be a problem in low-income countries without access to private capital, which continue to rely on aid for financial resources. The underlying premises of donor-recipient cooperation are very different when aid resources become more limited, especially when debt service is still a factor of significance. The need to keep objectives and rationales clear turn out to be even more important.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Hjertholm & Howard White, 2000. "Survey of Foreign Aid: History, Trends and Allocation," Discussion Papers 00-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0004

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


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

    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Cepparulo & Luisa Giuriato, 2012. "Global Challenges and Country-Specific Responses through Aid Financing of Global Public Goods," Working Papers 156, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    2. Pierre Jacquet & Jean-Michel Severino, 2004. "Prêter, donner : comment aider ?," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 74(1), pages 285-317.
    3. Philip Michael Kargbo & Kunal Sen, 2014. "Aid Categories that Foster Pro-Poor Growth: The Case of Sierra Leone," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 26(2), pages 416-429, June.
    4. Hasret Balcioglu, 2016. "Foreign Aid and Economic Growth: A Panel Cointegration for Selected Turkic Republics," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 6(6), pages 17-23, June.
    5. Atsuko Tanaka, "undated". "Notes on Foreign Aid Selectivity Based on Human Capital," Working Papers 2015-23, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 27 Sep 2015.
    6. Harrigan, Jane & Wang, Chengang, 2011. "A New Approach to the Allocation of Aid Among Developing Countries: Is the USA Different from the Rest?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1281-1293, August.
    7. Cepparulo, Alessandra & Giuriato, Luisa, 2009. "Aid Financing of Global Public Goods: an Update," MPRA Paper 22625, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Martinez, Pablo, 2015. "The impact of foreign aid on economic growth," MPRA Paper 66588, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:wfo:wstudy:24848 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Foreign Aid; Aid Allocation;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


    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:kud:kuiedp:0004. 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: (Thomas Hoffmann). 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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.