Journal Article

Foreign Aid Allocation Tactics and Democratic Change in Africa

Date Published

Jan 1, 2015


Simone Dietrich, Joseph Wright


The Journal of Politics


Dietrich, S., & Wright, J. (2015). Foreign Aid Allocation Tactics and Democratic Change in Africa. The Journal of Politics, 77(1), 216-234. doi:10.1086/678976


Over the past two decades, donors increasingly link foreign aid to democracy objectives in Africa. This study investigates whether and how foreign aid influences specific outcomes associated with democratic transition and consolidation. Using an instrumental variables approach for the period from 1989 to 2008, we show that economic aid increases the likelihood of transition to multiparty politics, while democracy aid furthers democratic consolidation by reducing the incidence of multiparty failure and electoral misconduct. However, we find little evidence that either economic or democracy aid influences opposition support in multiparty elections. These findings have implications for understanding how donors allocate aid and the political consequences of foreign assistance in Africa.

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Featured Authors

Simone Dietrich

Simone Dietrich

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Geneva in Switzerland

Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright

Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University

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