Uncertainty of aid inflows and the growth relationship

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1999-04-15
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This paper contributes to the literature on aid and economic growth. We posit that it is not the levei of aid flows per se but the stability of such flows that determines the impact of aid on economic growth. Three measures of aid instability are employed. One is a simple deviation from trend, and measures overall instability. The other measures are based on auto-regressive estimates to capture deviations from an expected trend. These measures are intended to proxy for uncertainty in aid receipts. We posit that such uncertainty will influence the relationship between aid and investment and how recipient governments respond to aid, and will therefore affect how aid impacts on growth. We estimate a standard cross-country growth regression including the leveI of aid, and find aid to be insignificant (in line with other results in the literature). We then introduce measures of instability. Aid remains insignificant when we account for overall instability. However, when we account for uncertainty (which is negative and significant), we find that aid has a significant positive effect on growth. We conduct stability tests that show that the significance of aid is largely due to its effect on the volume of investment. The finding that uncertainty of aid receipts reduces the effectiveness of aid is robust. When we control for this, aid appears to have a significant positive influence on growth. When the regression is estimated for the sub-sample of African countries these findings hold, although the effectiveness of aid appears weaker than for the full sample.


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