Working Paper

Autocratic Aid and Governance: What We Know, Don’t Know, and Need to Know

Date Published

May 30, 2019


Bradley C. Parks, Austin M. Strange



Parks, Bradley C. and Strange, Austin M. (2019). Autocratic Aid and Governance: What We Know, Don’t Know, and Need to Know. AidData Working Paper #75. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.

Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in the Annals of Comparative Democratization.


The growing availability of subnationally georeferenced data has opened up new opportunities to study the intended and unintended impacts of aid from democratic and autocratic donors. We review studies that use such data to measure the effects of democratic and autocratic aid on three different types of outcomes: (1) political capture, (2) corruption and the quality of local governance, and (3) citizens’ political attitudes and behavior. After summarizing key insights from this literature, we highlight several unresolved theoretical puzzles and empirical challenges that merit further exploration.

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Featured Authors

Bradley C. Parks

Bradley C. Parks

Executive Director

Austin Strange

Austin Strange

Assistant Professor, University of Hong Kong

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