Foreign aid's impact on public spending
Using a model of aid fungibility, the authors examine the relationship between foreign aid and public spending. Based on a panel of cross-country and time-series data, their results show that roughly 75 cents of every dollar given in net development assistance goes to current spending and 25 cents to capital spending in the recipient countries. But concessionary loans - a component of development assistance - stimulate far more government spending. Their results also show that aid increases both public and private investment. To test aid fungibility across both public spending categories, they use a newly constructed data series on the net disbursement of concessionary loans. They find that concessionary loans given to the transport and communication sector are fully nonfungible. But loans to the energy sector are converted into fungible monies and part of the funds leak into transport and communications. Loans to agriculture and education are also fungible. There is no evidence of concessionary funds being diverted for military purposes. Their results show that total public spending in the health sector has no impact on reducing infant mortality, but concessionary loans to the health sector do. This finding leads the authors to conclude that linking foreign aid to an agreed-upon public spending program in areas critical to development might be an effective way to transfer resources to developing countries.
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