Theory and Practice of Foreign Aid: Volume 1

Cover of Theory and Practice of Foreign Aid

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(28 chapters)
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This series is aimed at economists and financial economists worldwide and will provide an in depth look at current global topics. Each volume in the series will focus on specialized topics for greater understanding of the chosen subject and provide a detailed discussion of emerging issues. The target audiences are professional researchers, graduate students, and policy makers. It will offer cutting-edge views on new horizons and deepen the understanding in these emerging topics.

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About the Editor: Sajal Lahiri is the Vandeveer Professor of Economics at the Southern Illinois University – Carbondale; has worked as consultants to the FAO, IFAD, and the World Bank; has written extensively in top economics journals on issues related to development in general and to foreign aid in particular.


Pages xv-xxiii
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The importance of foreign aid cannot be overstated.1 Unprecedented integration of the world economy in recent years has brought the issue of poverty back in the policy debate at the international level. Some of the recent initiatives such as the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals and the report by the Africa Commission (set up by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair) which was discussed at length at G8 meetings, recognize this fact. The analysis of foreign aid is however fraught with controversies and paradoxes. This applies to both the theoretical and the empirical literature. There are two broad strands in the literature. First, in international trade theory, researchers have examined the welfare effects of foreign aid and, in particular, if aid can be donor-enriching and recipient-immiserizing – the so-called Transfer Paradox.2 The main mechanism here is via changes in the international terms of trade. The primary benefit (loss) to the recipient (donor) can be offset by a secondary loss (gain) because of deterioration (improvement) in the international terms of trade. More recently, a number of studies have examined the possibility of strictly Pareto improving foreign aid, i.e., situations where both the donor and the recipient are better off as a result of the transfer.

We construct a specific-factor trade-theoretic model for two small open economies that are in conflict with each other and where war efforts are determined endogenously. War efforts involve the use of soldiers and imported military hardware. The purpose of war is to capture disputed land or some other resource, but with war lives are lost and production is sacrificed. In this framework, we examine the effect of foreign aid on the war efforts in the warring countries. We find, inter alia, that an increase foreign aid to the warring countries may increase war efforts when arms protect lives in a significant way.

This paper looks at the role of redistributive politics and corruption in the utilization of foreign aid. We find that the governments in relatively poor countries have incentive to adopt ‘bad policies’ which do not improve the growth rate of the economy. On the other hand, the governments in relatively rich countries have more incentive to misappropriate the money increasing the corruption level of the economy, although they may pursue growth-enhancing policies. Therefore, it hints towards the existence of a positive correlation between the ‘good policies’ adopted in utilization of the aid money and the level of corruption in the recipient countries. The paper also finds that more aid-flow to the poorer (richer) countries increase (decrease) their levels of corruption.

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We combine a key issue in development economics (explaining core-periphery patterns) for the first time with an analysis of unilateral transfers (foreign aid) using a New Economic Geography model. We show that (i) direct transfer paradoxes are not possible in a symmetric setting even if a bystander is present, (ii) the effects of foreign aid depend on the level of economic integration, (iii) aid only has a temporary effect (even if there is a bystander present) if the initial equilibrium is stable, and (iv) the recipient as well as the bystander benefits from foreign aid if the donor is large.

This paper investigates the impact of foreign aid on foreign investment when foreign aid is used to finance a public consumption good. By formulating and analyzing a three-good general equilibrium model, we show that such foreign aid could crowd out foreign investment, given a factor intensity condition.

This paper investigates the role of infrastructure aid to developing countries beset with unemployment. Since unemployment persists in most developing countries with chronic foreign debts, the impact of infrastructure aid is analyzed using an extended Harris–Todaro model with two traded good sectors and a nontraded good sector. The paper delineates sufficient conditions under which infrastructure aid may lead to a Dutch disease effect.

We examine the allocation of a pre-determined amount of aid from a donor to two recipient countries. The donor suffers from cross-border pollution resulting from production activities in the recipient countries. It is shown that the recipient with the higher fraction of aid allocated to public abatement and with the lower emission tax, receives a higher share of the aid when the donor allocates aid so as to maximize its own welfare. Competition for aid reduces cross-border pollution to the donor when recipients use the fraction of aid allocated to pollution abatement as a policy to divert aid from each other. But, it increases cross-border pollution when recipients use the emission tax to divert aid from each other.

This paper examines the effects of foreign aid on emigration and welfare of the remaining residents in an economy producing traded and non-traded goods. There are three distinct types of households: the rich, the poor, and the relatives of emigrants. Donor country's aid is provided to discourage the poor from emigrating. The extent to which it achieves this objective is shown to be an important factor determining the welfare implications of aid for every type of household residing in the economy. The paper also considers the impact of foreign aid on remittance flows and total foreign exchange earnings of the recipient country.

We argue that a purpose of foreign aid is to whet the appetite of the recipient to bring about a long term commitment to what the donor perceives as a need, but the recipient may rank lower down on his list of undertakings, or may be sufficiently resource constrained as to be unable to start the project. In other words, we explore the implications and conditions for success of a donor trying to affect long-term recipient policy by creating path dependence. Once the project is established, aid can be removed without reversing the process that has been set in motion.

Constructing a simple dynamic North–South model in which factors of production are internationally immobile and there is no international credit market, it is possible that a persistent and unilateral foreign aid makes both North and South better off. We also show that the Pareto-improving transfer involves local indeterminacy.

Using a two-country two-commodity dynamic optimization model that gives rise to a liquidity trap, this paper investigates the effect of an international transfer on consumption and employment in the donor and recipient countries. It shows that a transfer from a country with unemployment to a country with full employment raises both countries' consumption. It deteriorates the donor's current account and hence depreciates its currency, which improves the international competitiveness of its products. Thus, employment and consumption increases in the country. It in turn improves the terms of trade for the recipient country, which benefits it since it maintains full employment.

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In this paper we examine the impact of tied aid on capital accumulation and welfare in the presence of a quota on imports. Using a simulation model we establish that tied aid can lower the relative domestic price of the manufactured good and therefore reduce the stock of capital. In the presence of a strong production externality from capital accumulation and high tying ratio, tied aid may immiserize the recipient country.

There is a substantial literature evaluating the impact of aid at the macroeconomic level using cross-country regressions. However, despite econometric advances in recent years, there remain many flaws in this approach. Similar problems beset cross-country analysis of the impact of aid on poverty indicators. More reliable estimates of the poverty impact of aid come from project-level analyses from which can be built up a picture of aid impact at the country level. This paper presents the findings from three such studies carried out by the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank.

The paper discusses various important issues of development aid in the context of the emerging new landscape for Official Development Assistance (ODA) and in particular how aid effectiveness issues are now perceived in a world of scaled-up aid. The paper also discusses the overall nexus between aid, growth and domestic policies in aid-recipient countries by reflecting on the relevant ongoing debate in this area. A substantial part of the paper is devoted to the discussion of the central issues involved in development aid, particularly in connection with recent calls in the international development community for scaling-up aid so that the Millennium Development Goals can be attained, as well as the challenging new policy agenda in this regard.

We consider the relationship between external aid and development in Mozambique from 1980–2004, identifying the specific mechanisms through which aid has influenced the developmental trajectory of the country. We undertake both a growth accounting analysis and review the intended and unintended effects of aid at the micro-level. Sustained aid flows to Mozambique, in conflict and post-conflict periods, have made an unambiguous, positive contribution to rapid growth since 1992. However, proliferation of donors and aid-supported interventions has burdened local administration, indicating a need for deeper domestic government accountability. To sustain growth, Mozambique must maximize benefits from natural resources while promoting constructive international market integration.

The question discussed in this paper is whether foreign aid can help accelerate growth in African countries. The paper reviews growth determinants and growth constraints in Africa and discusses how aid can help relieve the constraints. Issues covered are the choice of aid modalities, donor coordination, conditionality, and international integration. A key question addressed is how aid should be organized not to overburden the recipient system and to provide incentives for policy makers to perform. The paper also touches upon the need for international trade reforms and public goods investments.

There is now a large, if rather contentious and inconclusive, cross-country empirical literature on the effectiveness of aid in contributing to economic growth. Surprisingly, perhaps, there are very few country studies of aid effectiveness, and none of which we are aware that adopt a time series econometric approach to analyzing the impact of aid on growth. This chapter is an attempt to fill that gap, through a study of Kenya over the period 1964–2002. The core hypothesis underlying our approach is that aid does not have a direct effect on growth, but can have indirect effects through mediating channels. Given the requirements of time series techniques, we focus on two channels for the aid-growth relationship, one through effects on government fiscal relationship (as aid finances public spending) and another through effects on investment (as aid finances public investment). The analysis is no more than indicative but suggests a number of reasons why aid has not been effective in Kenya: reliance on aid loans to finance unanticipated budget deficits, low productivity of public investment and adverse effects of government behavior on private investment. Addressing these deficiencies is necessary if Kenya is to be enabled to utilize aid to improve its poor economic performance.

The recent increase in aid to Africa, alongside increases in special-purpose aid, has revived interest in the question of the fungibility of aid – the notion that, if a donor gives aid for a project that the recipient government would have undertaken anyway, then the aid is financing some expenditure other than the intended project. That aid in this sense may be “fungible”, while long recognized, has recently been receiving some empirical support. This paper focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the largest GDP share of aid. It presents results indicating that aid may be partially fungible, and suggests some reasons why.

Applying the general question of aid effectiveness to the sector of education, this paper provides some evidence for a positive effect of development assistance on primary enrolment and completion. However, even the most optimistic estimates clearly show that at any realistic rate of growth, aid will never be able to move the world markedly closer towards the internationally agreed objective of “Education For All”. Universal primary education requires increased efficiency of educational spending by donors and national governments alike. Moreover, there is some evidence that the recipient countries' general political and institutional background matters. Under conditions of bad governance, the impact of aid on enrolment can actually turn negative.

This paper estimates the responsiveness of aid to recipient countries' economic and physical needs, civil/political rights, and government effectiveness. We look exclusively at the post-Cold War era and use fixed effects to control for the political, strategic, and other considerations of donors. We find that aid and per capita income have been negatively related, while aid has been positively related to infant mortality, rights, and government effectiveness.

Recent work focuses on long-run historical factors in promoting economic growth and raising income. Other work considers whether the inflow of foreign aid works better in countries having good policies or good institutions. A problem with the latter is the endogeneity of policies and institutions since these are mutable. This paper combines the two approaches and asks whether aid (representing an inflow of resources) is better at promoting economic growth in historically “advantaged” (as identified by the literature) as opposed to “disadvantaged” ones. It finds that history still does matter but understanding why is less clear.

The effect of foreign aid on economic activity of a country can be dampened due to potentially adverse effects on exports through a real exchange rate appreciation. In this study we examine the long-term relationship between export performance and foreign aid in developing countries while accounting for other factors. The estimates of direct effect of foreign aid on exports are imprecise. However, the effect of the quadratic term of foreign aid on exports is negative and precise. This implies large amount of foreign aid does adversely affect export performance. The results are robust to the use of two different export performance measures and different sub-samples.

Subject Index

Pages 435-438
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Cover of Theory and Practice of Foreign Aid
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Book series
Frontiers of Economics and Globalization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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