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Aid and Poverty: Why Does Aid Not Address Poverty (Much)?


  • Bishop, Sylvia
  • Shepherd, Andrew


Aid is not generally aimed at the poorest people, though most multilateral or bilateral agencies would like to think they get included. However, donors´ strategies are generally blind to differentiation among the poor, and have not improved in this respect. The special provisions for the least developed countries, where many of the poorest people live, have not worked well. Aid to conflict-affected countries is itself in crisis. Much greater and more integrated aid is called for in both cases. Middle-income countries are themselves becoming donors, but the poorest populations of these countries have benefited from international partnerships which draw attention to the poorest and help foster innovative policy responses. Equity is far from being a strong principle of aid givers UNICEF is the exceptional agency. The human rights based approach to development, which would give much greater weight to the poorest, in practice languishes at the margins of development, though where this has been taken up in middle-income countries (e.g., India) donors have stood on the sidelines. Explanations of this fairly dismal state of affairs are offered in terms of political economy and organizational and profession incentives. Finally the paper sketches a set of issues which need to be incorporated into the post 2015 framework and its preparation if poverty is to be taken more seriously by donors.

Suggested Citation

  • Bishop, Sylvia & Shepherd, Andrew, 2013. "Aid and Poverty: Why Does Aid Not Address Poverty (Much)?," WIDER Working Paper Series 020, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2013-020

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew Shepherd, 2001. "Consolidating the lessons of 50 years of 'development'," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(3), pages 315-320.
    2. Elbers, Chris & Gunning, Jan Willem & de Hoop, Kobus, 2009. "Assessing Sector-wide Programs with Statistical Impact Evaluation: A Methodological Proposal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 513-520, February.
    3. Armando Barrientos & James Scott, 2008. "Social Transfers and Growth: A Review," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 5208, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    4. Angus Deaton & Olivier Dupriez, 2011. "Purchasing Power Parity Exchange Rates for the Global Poor," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 137-166, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blessing Chiripanhura & Miguel Niño‐Zarazúa, 2015. "Aid, Political Business Cycles and Growth in Africa," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(8), pages 1387-1421, November.
    2. Tony Addison & Miguel Niño‐Zarazúa & Finn Tarp, 2015. "Aid, Social Policy and Development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(8), pages 1351-1365, November.

    More about this item


    Economic assistance and foreign aid; Economic development; Poverty;

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