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What Undermines Aid's Impact on Growth?

  • Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Arvind Subramanian

We examine one of the most important and intriguing puzzles in economics: why it is so hard to find a robust effect of aid on the long-term growth of poor countries, even those with good policies. We look for a possible offset to the beneficial effects of aid, using a methodology that exploits both cross-country and within-country variation. We find that aid inflows have systematic adverse effects on a country's competitiveness, as reflected in a decline in the share of labor intensive and tradable industries in the manufacturing sector. We find evidence suggesting that these effects stem from the real exchange rate overvaluation caused by aid inflows. By contrast, private-to-private flows like remittances do not seem to create these adverse effects. We offer an explanation why and conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11657.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11657
Note: IFM PE
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  1. Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004. "Counting chickens when they hatch: The short-term effect of aid on growth," International Finance 0407010, EconWPA.
  2. Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2008. "Aid and Growth: What Does the Cross-Country Evidence Really Show?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 643-665, November.
  3. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2004. "On The Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages F191-F216, 06.
  4. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
  5. Esther Duflo & Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Leigh Linden, 2006. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomised Experiments in India," Working Papers id:360, eSocialSciences.
  6. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2002. "IMF Programs: Who is Chosen and What Are the Effects?," NBER Working Papers 8951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 2004. "Aid, policies, and growth : revisiting the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3251, The World Bank.
  8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2002. "The Modern History of Exchange Rate Arrangements: A Reinterpretation," NBER Working Papers 8963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  10. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 1999. "Aid allocation and poverty reduction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2041, The World Bank.
  11. 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.
  12. 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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