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Aid Absorption and Spending in Africa: A Panel Cointegration Approach


  • Pedro M G Martins


This paper focuses on the macroeconomic management of large inflows of foreign aid. It investigates the extent to which African countries have coordinated fiscal and macroeconomic responses to aid surges. In practice, we construct a panel dataset to investigate the level of aid ‘absorption’ and ‘spending’. This paper departs from the recent empirical literature by utilising better measures for aid inflows and by employing cointegration analysis. The empirical short-run results suggest that, on average, Africa’s low-income countries have absorbed two-thirds of (grant) aid receipts. This suggests that most of the foreign exchange provided by the aid inflows has been used to finance imports. The other third has been used to build up international reserves, perhaps to protect economies from future external shocks. In the long-run, absorption increases but remains below its maximum (‘full absorption’). Moreover, we also show that aid resources have been fully spent, especially in support of public investment. There is only weak evidence that a share of aid flows have been ‘saved’, i.e. substituted domestic borrowing. Overall, these findings suggest that the macroeconomic management of aid inflows in Africa has been significantly better than often portrayed in comparable exercises. The implication is that African countries will be able to efficiently manage a gradual scaling up in aid resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro M G Martins, "undated". "Aid Absorption and Spending in Africa: A Panel Cointegration Approach," Discussion Papers 10/06, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcre:10/06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pedroni, Peter, 2004. "Panel Cointegration: Asymptotic And Finite Sample Properties Of Pooled Time Series Tests With An Application To The Ppp Hypothesis," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 597-625, June.
    2. Kapetanios, G. & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Yamagata, T., 2011. "Panels with non-stationary multifactor error structures," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 160(2), pages 326-348, February.
    3. Mumtaz Hussain & Andrew Berg & Shekhar Aiyar, 2009. "The Macroeconomic Management of Increased Aid: Policy Lessons from Recent Experience," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(s1), pages 491-509, August.
    4. Kao, Chihwa, 1999. "Spurious regression and residual-based tests for cointegration in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 1-44, May.
    5. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    6. Shekhar Aiyar & Ummul Hasanath Ruthbah, 2008. "Where Did All the Aid Go? An Empirical Analysis of Absorption and Spending," IMF Working Papers 08/34, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Andrew Berg & Mumtaz Hussain & Shaun K. Roache & Amber A Mahone & Tokhir N Mirzoev & Shekhar Aiyar, 2007. "The Macroeconomics of Scaling Up Aid; Lessons from Recent Experience," IMF Occasional Papers 253, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Rolf Larsson & Johan Lyhagen & Mickael Lothgren, 2001. "Likelihood-based cointegration tests in heterogeneous panels," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 4(1), pages 1-41.
    9. Edward Buffie & Christopher Adam & Stephen O'Connell & Catherine Pattillo, 2004. "Exchange Rate Policy and the Management of Official and Private Capital Flows in Africa," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(s1), pages 126-160, June.
    10. Peter S. Heller, 2005. "“Pity the Finance Ministerâ€," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(4), pages 69-110, October.
    11. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
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