Social Science Quarterly

Do human rights matter in bilateral aid allocation? A quantitative analysis of 21 donor countries


Eric Neumayer


This paper analyses the role of human rights in bilateral aid allocation decisions of 21 donor countries. Econometric analysis is applied to a panel of three-year averages from 1984 to 1995. Respect for civil/political rights plays a statistically significant role for almost all aid donors on whether a country is deemed eligible for the receipt of aid. Personal integrity rights, on the other hand, are insignificant. Civil/political rights remain significant for a bare majority of aid donors with respect to the amount of aid allocated to a country. Personal integrity rights gain some significance at this stage, but for a few donor countries only. There is no systematic difference apparent between countries commonly regarded as committed to human rights (Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway) and the rest of donor countries. Donor countries still have a long way to go in rewarding respect for human rights in their foreign aid allocation.

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