Bilateralism and multilateralism in official development assistance policies
I examine in detail the motives of bilateral aid allocation decisions, as they are revealed by data on bilateral aid commitments. I identify both self-interest and recipient needs and merits motives in aid allocation. Self-interest motives are related to economic and political ties between donors and recipients. Such variables can be used to define a «bilateralism effect» in aid allocation decisions. Unsurprisingly, aid allocation net of the bilateralism effect is highly correlated with multilateral aid pattern. Perhaps more surprisingly, the bilateralism effect is adverse to the Sub-Saharan African region, in spite of its strong post-colonial ties with European donors, because trade linkages play actually a greater role than political ties. A consequence of the major role played by trade linkages is that the bilateralism effect is not necessarily adverse to aid selectivity, given that major trading partners are also on average open and relatively well performing economies.
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