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Aid dependence reconsidered

  • Azam, Jean-Paul
  • Devarajan, Shantayanan
  • O'Connell, Stephen A.

When foreign aid undermines institutional development aid recipients can exhibit the symptoms of aid"dependence"- benefiting from aid in the short term but damaged by it in the long term. The authors find that one equilibrium outcome can be high aid and weak institutions, even when donors and recipients fully anticipate aid's effects on institutional development, but don't take the drastic steps needed to put the country on the path to independence. Another equilibrium outcome can be low aid and strong institutions. Their model encompasses such diverse experiences as those of Tanzania and the Republic of Korea. When the development community ignores aid's effect on institutions, the outcome depends greatly on initial conditions. Where institutions are initially weak (as in many Sub-Saharan African countries at independence), institutional capacity collapses and foreign aid eventually finances the whole public budget. Where they are initially stronger, the result can be close to the institutions-sensitive equilibrium. The results suggest that, even for countries with similar per capita income, the foreign aid strategy should be designed to suit the country's institutional capacity. In some cases a short-term reduction in aid may increase a country's chances of graduating from aid.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2144.

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Date of creation: 31 Jul 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2144
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  1. Henry J. Bruton, 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 903-936, June.
  2. Bruton, H.J., 1998. "A Reconsideration of Import Substitution," Center for Development Economics 156, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  3. Kent P. Kimbrough, 1986. "Foreign Aid and Optimal Fiscal Policy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(1), pages 35-61, February.
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