Sara Lowes, Eduardo Montero, 13 May 2018

Delivery of health aid can be jeopardised by distrust at the local level. This column uses evidence from French military campaigns in Cameroon and former French Equatorial Africa to show that a significant reason for this distrust may be aid recipients’ historical experiences of colonial medical campaigns. Building and maintaining trust in medicine should remain a priority for modern health interventions.

Bernard Hoekman, Anirudh Shingal, 13 September 2017

Research on the effects of Aid for Trade has focused mostly on merchandise trade and investment in developing countries. This column discusses the relationship between Aid for Trade and trade in services and finds that while most Aid for Trade is allocated to service sectors, this is not associated with greater trade in services, in contrast to what is observed for trade in goods. These findings suggest that Aid for Trade could do more to target capacity weaknesses that constrain growth in services trade.

Axel Dreher, Vera Eichenauer, Kai Gehring, Sarah Langlotz, Steffen Lohmann, 18 October 2015

There is no consensus on whether foreign aid is effective in boosting the economy of the recipient country. This column suggests that there is no evidence that aid affects growth. This finding does not imply that aid is necessarily ineffective. Much of the aid is not given to affect growth in the first place, but as humanitarian aid following disasters, to fight terror, please political allies, or influence decisions in important international organisations. Such aid should thus be evaluated with its own goals in mind.

Sebastian Edwards, 28 November 2014

The effectiveness of official development aid is the subject of heated debate. This column argues that aid affects recipient economies in extremely complex ways and through multiple and changing channels. Moreover, this is a two-way relationship – realities in recipient countries affect the actions of aid agencies. This relationship is so intricate and time-dependent that it is not amenable to being captured by cross-country or panel regressions. Even sophisticated specifications with multiple breakpoints and nonlinearities are unlikely to explain the inner workings of the aid–performance connection.

Emmanuel Frot, Maria Perrotta, 24 September 2012

If there seems to be near unanimity among policymakers about the positive role of aid, the academic community has not found any robust evidence that aid contributes to development. This column presents a new empirical strategy that isolates the causal effect of aid on growth. The effect is found to be larger than previously estimated. The average developing country citizen would be about 15% poorer today had aid never been disbursed.

Dierk Herzer, Peter Nunnenkamp, 01 April 2012

The longstanding debate on aid effectiveness has failed to produce conclusive evidence that aid promotes economic growth. This sad result of 40 years of research still leaves some hope. This column argues that foreign aid could help improve economic conditions of the poorest population segments and narrow income gaps. However, the data seems to indicate aid has actually widened the gap between the rich and the poor.

Ravi Kanbur, Andy Sumner, 08 November 2011

Many poor people no longer live in poor countries. Of the 10 countries that contribute most to global poverty, six are middle-income countries. For many aid organisations, ‘middle-income’ means they no longer qualify for the same financial aid. This column argues that such a policy would be failing up to a billion people.

Markus Brückner, 20 May 2011

Foreign aid has a significant positive effect on real per capita GDP growth in the least developed countries if account is taken of the quantitatively large and negative reverse effect of GDP growth on foreign aid. That is the conclusion of research by Markus Brückner of the University of Adelaide, which he discussed with Romesh Vaitilingam in an interview recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Glasgow in August 2010. [Also read the transcript.]

Javier Santiso, Emmanuel Frot, 18 January 2010

The rapid growth in the fragmentation of aid donors is seen by many to be a burden for recipient countries. This column argues that too much fragmentation is not the issue; the problem is that there is too little competition between the suppliers of aid.

William Easterly, 01 June 2009

The debate on aid to Africa continues. This column argues that it is bad governments and institutions that cause poverty, not bad geography. Making sure aid reaches the poor will often mean not giving it to poor governments.

Jeffrey Sachs, 29 May 2009

Aid critics have recently been blaming aid as the source of Africa’s poverty. This column explains how Africa has long been struggling with rural poverty, tropical diseases, illiteracy, and lack of infrastructure and that the right solution is to help address these critical needs through transparent and targeted public and private investments. This includes both more aid and more market financing.

Emmanuel Frot, 13 May 2009

Developing countries are expected to be severely hit by the recent financial crisis. This column says that based on previous crises, aid flows to developing countries should be down by 13%. However, donor countries’ pledges may soften the shock this time around.

Tony Atkinson, Peter Backus, John Micklewright, Cathy Pharoah, Sylke Schnepf, 17 January 2009

While the UK’s provision of official development assistance stagnated over the last quarter-century, charitable donations for development increased seven-fold. Giving for development has grown faster than both total household income and giving for all other causes combined. Would an increase in government assistance risk crowding out private donations?

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