Working Paper
83

Is Favoritism a Threat to Chinese Aid Effectiveness? A Subnational Analysis of Chinese Development Projects

Date Published

Jul 15, 2019

Authors

Axel Dreher, Andreas Fuchs, Roland Hodler, Bradley C. Parks, Paul A. Raschky, Michael J. Tierney

Publisher

Citation

Dreher, A., Fuchs, A, Hodler, R., Parks, B., Raschky, P., and Tierney, M. (2019). Is Favoritism a Threat to Chinese Aid Effectiveness? A Subnational Analysis of Chinese Development Projects. AidData Working Paper #83. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.

Announcement

Chinese aid comes with few strings attached, allowing recipient country leaders to use it for domestic political purposes. The vulnerability of Chinese aid to political capture has prompted speculation that it may be economically ineffective, or even harmful. We test these claims by estimating the effect of Chinese aid on subnational economic development — as measured by per-capita nighttime light emissions — and whether this effect is different in politically favored jurisdictions than in other parts of the country. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we do not find that the local receipt of Chinese aid undermines economic development outcomes at either the district level or provincial level. Nor does political favoritism in the allocation of Chinese aid towards the home regions of recipient country leaders reduce its effectiveness. Our results from 709 provinces and 5,835 districts within 47 African countries from 2001-2012 demonstrate that Chinese aid improves local development outcomes, regardless of whether such aid is allocated to politically consequential jurisdictions.

Funding: The authors thank Humanity United and the Hewlett Foundation for the generous funding that made this research possible. Axel Dreher and Andreas Fuchs are grateful for generous support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the framework of the project “The Economics of Emerging Donors in Development Cooperation” at Heidelberg University (DR 640/5-1 and FU 997/1-1). Roland Hodler and Paul Raschky are grateful for generous support from the Australian Research Council (ARC DP150100061).

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Axel Dreher

Axel Dreher

Professor of Economics and Chair of International and Development Politics at Heidelberg University

Andreas Fuchs

Andreas Fuchs

Professor of Development Economics at the University of Goettingen

Roland Hodler

Roland Hodler

Professor of Economics at the University of Lucerne

Bradley C. Parks

Bradley C. Parks

Executive Director

Mike Tierney

Mike Tierney

Co-Director of the Global Research Institute and Hylton Professor of Government and International Relations at the College of William & Mary

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