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Sowing and reaping: institutional quality and project outcomes in developing countries

  • Dollar, David
  • Levin, Victoria

Much of the academic debate on the effectiveness of foreign aid is centered on the relationship between aid and growth. Different aid-growth studies find conflicting results: aid promotes growth everywhere; aid has a zero or negative impact on growth everywhere; or the effect of aid on growth depends on recipient-specific characteristics, such as the quality of institutions and policies. Although these studies fuel an interesting debate, cross-sectional macroeconomic studies cannot be the last word on the topic of aid effectiveness. In this paper, Dollar and Levin introduce microeconomic evidence on factors conducive to the success of aid-funded projects in developing countries. The authors use the success rate of World Bank-financed projects in the 1990s, as determined by the Operations Evaluation Department, as their dependent variable. Using instrumental variables estimation, the authors find that existence of high-quality institutions in a recipient country raises the probability that aid will be used effectively. There is also some evidence that geography matters, but location in Sub-Saharan Africa is a more robust indicator of lower project success rate than tropical climate. The authors proceed to disaggregate the success rate of World Bank projects by lending instrument type and by investment sector, finding that different institutions are more important for different types of projects. The finding of a strong relationship between institutional quality and project success serves to provide further support to the hypothesis that aid effectiveness is conditional on institutions and policies of the recipient country.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3524.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3524
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  1. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Mosley, Paul & Hudson, John & Horrell, Sara, 1987. "Aid, the Public Sector and the Market in Less Developed Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 616-41, September.
  3. Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004. "Counting chickens when they hatch: The short-term effect of aid on growth," International Finance 0407010, EconWPA.
  4. Kaufmann, Daniel & Wang, Yan, 1995. "Macroeconomic policies and project performance in the social sectors: A model of human capital production and evidence from LDCs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 751-765, May.
  5. Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 1999. "Aid Effectiveness Disputed," MPRA Paper 62290, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2001. "On the Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-13, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
  7. Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 2001. "Aid and growth regressions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 547-570, April.
  8. Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Lisa CHAUVET, 1999. "Aid and Performance: A Reassessment," Working Papers 199910, CERDI.
  9. Jeff Dayton-Johnson & John Hoddinott, 2003. "Aid, policies and growth, redux," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive redux2, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  10. Isham, Jonathan & Kaufmann,Daniel, 1995. "The forgotten rationale for policy reform : the productivity of investment projects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1549, The World Bank.
  11. Mosley, Paul, 1980. "Aid, Savings and Growth Revisited," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 42(2), pages 79-95, May.
  12. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Tropical Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 8119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New doubts: A Comment on Burnside and Dollar's "Aid, Policies, and Growth" (2000)," NBER Working Papers 9846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Isham, Jonathan & Kaufmann, Daniel & Pritchett, Lant H, 1997. "Civil Liberties, Democracy, and the Performance of Government Projects," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 219-42, May.
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