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Aid and Growth in Malawi


  • Daniel Chris Khomba

    (University of St Andrews)

  • Alex Trew

    () (University of St Andrews)


We study the local impact of foreign aid to constituencies and districts in Malawi over the period 1999--2013 using a highly detailed new aid database that includes annual disbursements at each project location. First, we show using household panel surveys that growth in light density is a good proxy for growth in per capita consumption. Second, we introduce a new political dataset that permits novel instrumental variables. Using two instruments, together or separately, we find a consistent, robust and quantitatively significant role for aid in causing growth in light density. Constituency-level regressions point to a larger effect than at district level, suggesting that aid causes some relocation of activity across space but not enough to make the net effect zero. The impact on growth peaks after two to three years but then falls to zero, implying that foreign aid has a level effect on incomes but does not stimulate sustained growth. Bilateral aid appears to be better in causing growth than multilateral aid. Aid delivered as a grant has an impact while that given as a loan does not.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Chris Khomba & Alex Trew, 2016. "Aid and Growth in Malawi," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201612, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews, revised 01 Feb 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:san:wpecon:1612

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    Foreign aid; economic development; favoritism;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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