Journal Article

The Politics of Effective Foreign Aid

Date Published

Feb 1, 2010


Joseph Wright, Matthew Winters


Annual Review of Political Science


Wright, J., & Winters, M. (2010). The Politics of Effective Foreign Aid. Annual Review of Political Science, 13, 61-80. doi:10.1146/annurev.polisci.032708.143524


There is little consensus on whether foreign aid can reliably increase economic growth in recipient countries. We review the literature on aid allocation and provide new evidence suggesting that since 1990 aid donors reward political contestation but not political inclusiveness. Then we examine some challenges in analyzing cross-national data on the aid/growth relationship. Finally, we discuss the causal mechanisms through which foreign aid might affect growth and argue that politics can be viewed as both (a) an exogenous constraint that conditions the causal process linking aid to growth and (b) an endogenous factor that is affected by foreign aid and in turn impacts economic growth.

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Featured Authors

Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright

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

Matthew Winters

Matthew Winters

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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