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This article explores the theoretical link and transmission mechanism through which official development assistance (ODA) or foreign aid affects poverty. The study also presents some major debates on the effectiveness of foreign aid in development in general and poverty reduction in particular. The main findings from this exploratory study suggest that there is no generally accepted economic theory upon which foreign aid allocation is based. Several theories have been advanced, but most of them have been heavily criticized. As a result, there are two distinct and extreme lines of thoughts: those who believe that foreign aid can contribute to a virtuous circle of economic growth and poverty reduction against the other group, which contends that foreign aid leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and stunted development. Finally, a third group assumes that once we distinguish channels through which foreign aid affects development, we may notice several degrees of positive impact on development and diminution of poverty, depending on the choice of channel, the country's recipient features and the domestic economic policies
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
Edmore MAHEMBE12*
Prof Nicholas M. ODHIAMBO
This article explores the theoretical link and transmission mechanism through which
official development assistance (ODA) or foreign aid affects poverty. The study also
presents some major debates on the effectiveness of foreign aid on development in
general and poverty reduction in particular. The main findings from this exploratory study
suggest that there is no generally accepted economic theory upon which foreign aid
allocation is based. Several theories have been advanced, but most of them have been
heavily criticized. As a result, there are two distinct and extreme lines of thoughts: those
who believe that foreign aid can contribute to a virtuous circle of economic growth and
poverty reduction against the other group, which contends that foreign aid leads to a
vicious cycle of poverty and stunted development. Finally, a third group assumes that once
we distinguish channels through which foreign aid affects development, we may notice
several degrees of positive impact on development and diminution of poverty, depending
on the choice of channel, the recipient country features and the domestic economic
Keywords: Aid effectiveness; developing countries; foreign aid; poverty reduction
JEL Codes: F35 foreign aid, I32 measurement and analysis of poverty, O47 empirical
studies of economic growth.
1. Introduction
Total annual ODA reached US$170.32 billion per year in 2015 (OECD, 2017). By 2013 it
was estimated that total foreign aid since 1960 amounted to US$4.7 trillion at 2013 prices
(Ravallion, 2016, p. 518). As a result of these volumes, foreign aid has attracted an
unprecedented amount of attention from politicians, scholars, media and even celebrities
(Easterly, 2008; Moyo, 2009). This massive attention also caused huge and polarizing
debates on the effectiveness of foreign aid in delivering on the developmental goals
(sustained economic growth and poverty reduction), with poverty reduction emerging as
an explicit objective since the introductin of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs)
(Sachs, 2005; Ravallion, 2016). In actuality, the first goal of the MDG was to halve the
global “US$1 a day” poverty rate by 2015. Furthermore, the recently promulgated
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envision a world of ‘no poverty’.
Despite this noble objective of eradicating poverty, huge debates have been raging since
the 1970s on whether ODA has been or is an effective tool to reduce poverty in developing
countries. Many scholars and decision makers have been raising the question; ‘Does aid
work?’ The answer to this seemingly easy question has led to aid being labelled
1 Corresponding Author [Doctoral Research Fellow, Economics Department, University of South
Africa, Pretoria, South Africa]
* Authros: Edmore Mahembe. Email: / and
Prof Nicholas M. Odhiambo. Email: / Department of
Economics, University of South Africa, P.O Box 392, UNISA 0003, Pretoria, South Africa
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
‘controversial’ (Glennie & Sumner, 2014) and ‘bipolar’ (Easterly, 2008). On one side of the
debate, there are strong advocates for aid who argue that aid is the most effective
weapons in the war against poverty and helps to reduce poverty by increasing economic
growth, improving governance and increasing access to public services (Easterly, 2008, p.
1). Gates and Gates (2014) argues that “foreign aid is … a phenomenal investment. Foreign
aid does not simply save lives; it also lays the groundwork for lasting, long-term economic
progress”3. On the other side of the debate are equally strong anti-foreign aid sentiments.
Two of the most quoted critics are Moyo (2009, p. 28) who argue that aid “perpetuates the
cycle of poverty and derails sustainable economic development”, and Deaton (2013, p.
272), who states that “giving more aid than we currently give will not better the
The main objective of this study is to highlight some of the main debates on the
effectiveness of foreign aid on poverty reduction. The paper is structured as follows:
section 2 gives a detailed discussion on the theoretical link between foreign aid and
poverty, and explains methods of foreign aid allocation; section 3 presents some possible
transmission channels through which foreign aid affects poverty; section 4 highlights the
main debates on effectiveness of foreign aid from both empirical and theoretical
literature. Section 5 concludes the article, with a summary of findings and a call for
further research.
2. Theoretical Link between Foreign Aid and Poverty and Aid Allocation
The study of foreign aid by economists began in the 1950s, though aid was still a fairly
new phenomenon, having been officially formalised in 1947. Earlier theorists suggest that
foreign aid provides the necessary capital to boost development countries into self-
sustaining economic growth (Nurske, 1953; Lewis, 1954). McGillivray et al. (2006) noted
that there was no empirical research assessing the impact of foreign aid in the 1950s. This
section deliberates the major development economics theories which have been used to
justify the importance of aid for development. Some of these theories were also used, in
practice, to estimate the total amounts of foreign aid required (aid allocation) and
evaluate the effectiveness of aid.
2.1. Vicious and virtuous cycles
Some development theorists such as Rosenstein-Rodan (1943), Murphy et al. (1993), and
Galor and Zeira (1993) started by investigating the reason some poor countries were
failing to grow and why poverty seemed to be self-reinforcing (Schaffner, 2014). It was
argued that underdevelopment and poverty were perpetuated by one or more ‘vicious
circles’ which had the effect of preventing growth and confining the economy to a low-
income or ‘poverty traps’ (Clunies-Ross et al., 2009, p. 109). On the other hand, ‘virtuous
circles’ were thought to be opposing forces, which promote growth by setting into motion
self-reinforcing income-raising systems that function through ‘circular and cumulative
causation’ (Myrdal, 1957; Fujita, 2004; Perry, et al., 2006).
According to Clunies-Ross et al. (2009, p. 109) “a typical vicious circle would see initial
low productivity levels leading to low per capita income levels … places a very low ceiling
on attainable levels of savings – which, in turn, rule out the new capital investment needed
to improve productivity. The economy is stuck in (a) low-productivity and low-income
3 Also quoted by Ravallion (2016, p. 519)
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trap”. Thus, the ‘vicious and virtuous cycles’ theory can be termed the “poverty trap
model” (Murphy, et al., 1989). This theory suggests that there is a wide range of
overlapping vicious circles, which frustrate attempts by the poor to climb out of poverty,
and thereby impair national growth performance (Clunies-Ross et al., 2009, p. 110). It is
further argued that the consequences of poverty may inhibit people from breaking out of
it. Many development economists then argued for a “special effort to push the economy
over a threshold into a region where sustained increase in per capital incomes is possible”
(Clunies-Ross et al., 2009, p. 111). According to Solow (1970), there was a need for “a
major burst of investment [to] lift the system into a self-generating expansion of income
and capital per head”4.
Increasing the rate of investment was therefore suggested as the solution for spurring
growth and breaking the poverty trap. It was further argued that developing countries
needed a ‘big push’ to break the constraints of the low-level trap (Rosenstein-Rodan,
1943; Clunies-Ross et al., 2009). It was also further argued that the efforts to promote
growth will be most successful if accompanied by simultaneous attempts to reduce
poverty and improve income distribution. Foreign aid would provide the much-needed
increase in investment. The main argument was that foreign aid would “jump-start
economic growth, and initiates a virtuous cycle whereby investment generates income
and thus raises the economic return to further investment” (Shleifer, 2009, p. 381). See
also Roser and Ortiz-Ospina (2017) and Niyoncuru (2016) for detailed discussions on the
the evolution of poverty in the world.
2.2. Stages of economic growth theory
The term ‘stages of economic growth theory’ is mainly associated with Rostow (1960;
1990). The theory states that all countries pass through a series of ‘stages’ as they develop.
The initial stage is the traditional society, which is characterized by lower economic
growth rates with more than 75 percent of the population involved in agricultural
activities. The second stage is termed transitional stage, characterized by increased
efficiency of agriculture and general modernisation of the economy. The third and more
critical stage in the development process is ‘take-off’. The take-off is assumed to be a
result of a sharp increase in the level of savings and investment5, the availability of these
funds to entrepreneurs, and the adoption of modern production technologies (Clunies-
Ross et al., 2009, pp. 116-117). The fourth and fifth (and final) stages are ‘drive to
maturing’ and high mass consumption, respectively. This theory was, for some time,
widely accepted as the ‘road map’ of the development process for poor countries (Clunies-
Ross et al., 2009) and the justification for foreign aid to help poor countries take off.
According to Easterly (2006, pp. 24-25), Rostow (1960) estimated that “an increase of $4
billion in external aid would be required to lift all of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin
America into regular growth, at an increase of per capita income say, 1.5% per annum”.
2.3. Harrod-Domar model and gap models
According to Easterly (1997), the most widely applied model by development economists
and aid policy makers to determine the amounts of aid to be allocated to development
countries is the Harrod-Domar model. This model is a product of an extension of the
Keynesian analysis of the economic growth model by Harrod (1939; 1948) and a similar
4 As quoted from Clunies-Ross et al. (2009, p. 112).
5 According to Clunies-Ross, et al. (2009) this could be from around 5% to well over 10% of GNI.
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
but independent study by Domar (1946). The Harrod-Domar equation or relationship is
illustrated in Equation 1.
where is the rate of growth of income (output) in the economy, is the savings ratio
or rate of savings (which is assumed to be equivalent to available savings), and is the
capital-output ratio.
The main assumptions of the model are that there is an excess supply of labour in the
economy, economic growth is constrained only by the availability and productivity of
capital, and that the availability of capital (level of investment) is determined by the level
of savings (McGillivray et al., 2006, p. 1033). Although it was not the original intention of
the creators of the Harrod-Domar model, development economists used the Harrod-
Domar relationship to estimate the savings and investment requirements for specific rates
of economic growth (Clunies-Ross et al., 2009). For example, once the capital-output
ration was estimated accurately, it would have been possible to predict the growth rate
given the current savings rate. Equally well, the savings rate to achieve a targeted growth
rate could be estimated. Given the fact that capital-output ratio ( ) was assumed to be
constant, the main policy implication was that the higher the savings (investment ratio),
the higher the growth rate (Hussain, 2001).
The implications for foreign aid allocation were that, if the savings rate is too low (which
has been the case for most developing countries) given the preferred rate of economic
growth, then there is a ‘financing gap’ which needs to be filled to achieve the desired rate
of growth6. The total required investment was compared with available domestic savings
to determine the investment gap and the level of foreign resources that will be required to
fill the finance gap. Foreign aid could be used to ease the savings constraint, increase the
level of available investment, thereby boosting the rate of growth and ultimately poverty
reduction (McGillivray et al., 2006).
Chenery and Bruno (1962) and Chenery and Strout (1966) extended the Harrod-Domar
model from the original ‘savings-investment gap’ to include the ‘foreign exchange gap’. It
became known as the ‘two-gap or dual gap model’. The foreign exchange gap was
premised on the notion that in order for the developing economies to grow at an
acceptable rate, there is a need for importation of significant quantities of capital goods
and other essential inputs for production (McGillivray et al., 2006). It was further argued
that developing countries do not have export earnings required to acquire these capital
goods for investment (McGillivray et al., 2006). Even with enough funds to finance the
investment gap, the foreign exchange gap was argued to be ‘binding’ and could retard the
growth rates. An important assumption for this two-gap model was that local savings
could not easily be turned into foreign exchange, at least in the short run. Thus, foreign aid
would play a dual role: augmenting the amount of resources available for investment and
providing the much-needed foreign exchange. According to Hussain (2001, p. 2), the
World Bank computerised the Chenery version of the Harrod-Domar model, and Easterly
(1997) states that this version (and its similar updates) were used by around 90 percent
6 The starting point of the two-gap analysis was that developing countries are constrained by a
dearth of capital for investment, due to a shortfall in savings. The level of savings available in
developing counties was assumed to be below the level required to achieve the target level of
growth (Clunies-Ross et al., 2009, p. 119).
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of the countries’ economists in the World Bank to create economic growth and resource
requirements predictions.
Bacha (1990) and Taylor (1990; 1994) identified a third gap: the ‘fiscal gap’. The main
argument was that some developing country governments do not have the “revenue
raising capacity to cover the desired level of investment” (McGillivray et al., 2006, p.
1034). Thus, foreign aid given directly to recipient governments could potentially ease the
fiscal gap, provided that the aid is used for investment purposes.
In summary, the Harrod-Domar and the gap models were used to justify and explain the
importance of aid to the developing countries, and to calculate the amounts of aid to be
allocated. Using the three-gap models (the savings-investment, the foreign exchange and
the fiscal balance gap), it was argued that foreign aid would supplement the low savings
and therefore increase the level of investment funds, provide the foreign exchange needed
for the importation of crucial capital goods and inputs, and boost domestic revenues. The
overall objective was to raise savings and investments which were assumed to be the key
for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The early studies on aid
effectiveness investigated the impact of aid on savings and investment and assumed that
“one dollar of foreign aid will increase savings and investment by one dollar and therefore
lead to increases in growth (McGillivray et al., 2006, p. 1034).
The Harrod-Domar models have been criticised for being too rigid and unrealistic. For
example, the models assume that the marginal propensity to save and the capital-output
ratio are constant, even in the long run. The harshest critic of the Harrod-Domar and the
gap models was Easterly (1997). He asserted that “Domar’s model was not intended as a
growth model, made no sense as a growth model, and was repudiated as a growth model
forty years ago by its creator” (Easterly, 1997, p. 2). Hussain (2001) followed this
criticism up and developed an alternative model, which is explained in the following sub-
section. Despite the criticism, Masud and Yontcheva (2005) argued that Harrod-Domar
and the two-gap model by Chenery and Strout (1966) remain the most influential
theoretical underpinning of the aid effectiveness literature.
2.4. The Thirlwall-Hussain model
The Thirlwall and Hussain (1982) model, also known as the balance of payments or
constrained growth model, is based on Thirlwall's law7 (Thirlwall , 1979). Thirlwall's law
states that the rate of growth of any open economy is equal to its export volume growth
divided by the income elasticity of demand for imports (Thirlwall , 1979). Thirlwall and
Hussain (1982) extended this law and showed the effects of economic growth emanating
from initial imbalance in the current account, terms of trade and capital inflows. This
extended model can be used to forecast growth, measure the ‘financing gap’, formulate
policy advice, and offer indicators for estimating the development effectiveness of foreign
aid (Hussain, 2001).
Unlike the neo-classical growth theories, which are supply-side models, the Thirlwall and
Hussain (1982) is a demand-side model. It postulates that the main binding limitation on
growth in an open economy is a shortage of foreign exchange. It contends that the balance
of payments position of a country is the main constraint on growth, because it imposes a
limit on demand to which supply can adapt (Hussain, 2001). It is further argued that
economic growth can only be faster and sustainable if the exports are expanding more
7 Named after Thirlwall (1979).
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than imports. Thus, countries’ growth strategies should be anchored on “foreign exchange
productivity of investment” such as foreign exchange earnings (Hussain, 2001, p. 5).
Hussain (2001) argues that foreign aid can contribute to higher growth rate if it can be
used to finance the excess of imports over exports. It is further argued that if there is no
corresponding change in the production structure and the pattern of trade in the recipient
country, the economy will continue to depend on foreign aid for higher growth rates.
Thus, if the fundamental objective is faster economic growth and poverty reduction, the
allocation of foreign aid should be in a manner that can help poor countries graduate to a
self-sustaining growth path. The model suggests two broad indicators of measuring the
long-term development effectiveness of foreign aid: (i) the ability to promote export
growth relative to that of imports in the recipient country, and (ii) creation of an
environment that attracts private capital into the aid recipient country (Hussain, 2001).
Hussain (2001) applied the Thirlwall and Hussain (1982) model to the estimation of the
financing gap for a sample of 24 African countries, as an alternative model to the Harrod-
Domar. The study concluded that foreign exchange is the binding constraint in most
African countries, and therefore the effectiveness of foreign aid should be measured in
terms of foreign exchange earnings (or savings) (Hussain, 2001).
The Thirlwall and Hussain (1982) model has not been able to find traction in development
economics and the practitioners’ community. It was criticised by Ranaweera (2003, p. 2),
who asserted that it was an “incomplete model”.
3. Channels by which Foreign Aid Affect Poverty
Mosley et al. (1987, p. 616) highlighted three ‘effects’ through which foreign aid can
influence development in a recipient country. Firstly, aid can have direct effects when its
disbursement can be traced directly to the project for which the aid money was originally
intended. Secondly, aid can affect the development outcomes indirectly through its
influence on the public-sector spending of the recipient government. The availability of
foreign aid presents the recipient country with an opportunity to reallocate its
expenditure. Lastly, “transfer of aid money raises the prices of some goods, depresses the
price of some others, and hence has side-effects on the private sector of the recipient
economy through the price system” (Mosley et al., 1987, p. 617).
Recently, Guillaumont (2011) and Guillaumont and Wagner (2014) described three main
macroeconomic channels through which foreign aid can affect poverty. These include the
impact of aid on poverty through growth, social public expenditures, and the
macroeconomic stabilizing effect of aid. There is a clear link between these channels and
the ‘effects’ proposed by Mosley et al. (1987). These channels are briefly discussed below.
3.1. Traditional growth channel
This is the traditional channel, which is mainly discussed in the theory of foreign aid and
mainstream empirical literature on effectiveness of foreign aid. The empirical analysis is
based on the growth models which are anchored on savings and investment. It is assumed
that foreign aid will stimulate growth through increasing investment, and economic
growth would in turn lead to poverty reduction. There are two main debates concerning
this channel: the first is whether aid has been effective in boosting growth and the second
is whether growth translates to poverty reduction.
3.1.1. The aid-growth nexus
After many ambiguous and conflicting results, there is now evidence of convergence and
consensus that foreign aid has significant impact on growth. It has been concluded that aid
has been successful in some countries and unsuccessful in others, and therefore the
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
results of the effectiveness of aid on growth may depend on the type of aid, how it is
financed, the time horizon, and also on the policy and institutional environment of the
recipient country (Kraay, 2005; Radelet, 2006). Kraay (2005, p. 9) argued that though aid
can contribute to poverty reduction through growth, over the medium to long term, where
most of changes in poverty depend on growth, factors other than aid will be important as
well for determining the level of poverty alleviation.
3.1.2. From growth to poverty reduction
According to Feeny (2003, p. 73) “growth is often viewed as the primary driver of poverty
reduction. Therefore, inferences of the impact of aid on poverty are commonly drawn
from the impact of aid on growth.” Kraay (2005, p. 1) asserts that “sustained poverty
reduction is impossible without sustained growth”. The main assumption here is that, if
aid has a positive impact on growth and if growth reduces poverty, then aid contributes to
poverty reduction (Guillaumont & Wagner, 2014, p. 11). The extent to which aid affects
poverty will depend on the growth elasticity of poverty (or income elasticity of poverty).
Earlier studies by Collier and Dollar (2001; 2002) assumed that the universal income
elasticity of poverty is two (2); they were explicit in their assumption that the aid-poverty-
growth channel is the only aid-induced route to poverty reduction.
As a result, Collier and Dollar (2002) used this uniform income elasticity of poverty to
calculate what they termed the ‘optimal aid allocation’. However, subsequent studies by
Hanmer and Naschold, (2000) and Mosley et al. (2004) show that the partial growth
elasticity of poverty reduction could be around 0.34 and 0.48 respectively. Overall, the
income elasticity of poverty varies according to the recipient country’s income
distribution (level of inequality), change in the level of inequality, income per capita and
growth volatility (Bourguignon, 2003; Guillaumont & Wagner, 2014).
3.2. Pro-poor public expenditure channel
In their aid-growth regressions, Burnside and Dollar (2000) introduced the importance of
good policies (which included budget deficit, inflation and openness) as a condition for the
effectiveness of foreign aid. Subsequent studies incorporated quality of institutions,
corruption, governance and a host of other variables. However, as noted by Mosley et al.
(2004, p. 223), the policy variables emerging from these aid-growth regressions were
highly controversial and could not offer a conclusive answer on how aid would eventually
lead to poverty reduction.
Gomanee et al. (2003) and Mosley et al. (2004) argued that foreign aid can affect poverty
through what they termed pro-poor (public) expenditure (PPE). This is a composition of
public expenditures which are most likely to benefit the poor (Guillaumont & Wagner,
2014, p. 14). The PPE include government expenditures on social sectors such as basic
health care, primary education, water and sanitation, rural roads and agricultural
extension services (Mosley et al., 2004). Studies which show that PPE is an important
channel by which aid can reduce poverty include those by Mosley et al. (2004), Gomanee
et al. (2005a) and Kosack (2003).
3.3. Macroeconomic stabilizing effect channel
Guillaumont and Wagner (2014, p. 23) argued that at the macroeconomic level aid is
expected to stabilise the recipient country’s economic growth. The main assumption is
that growth, especially in developing countries, is volatile owing to exogenous shocks,
such as exports instability. Though aid has been accused of instability, unpredictability
and ‘pro-cyclist’, Guillaumont and Wagner (2014) maintain that aid has a destabilizing
macroeconomic impact. Studies by Collier and Goderis (2009), Guillaumont and Le Goff
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(2010) and Guillaumont and Kpodar (2012) tested the stabilizing impact of aid using
different methods, and found evidence that foreign aid has a stabilizing effect.
Guillaumont and Wagner (2014, p. 25) further argue that because economic growth is a
major factor in poverty reduction, growth instability harms the poor through its adverse
effect on economic income. Collier and Goderis (2009) found that aid reduces the negative
effect of vulnerability on growth. Chauvet and Guillaumont (2009) investigated the effect
of aid on income volatility and found that aid makes growth more stable and that the
higher effectiveness of aid in vulnerable countries could be as a result of aid’s stabilising
effect. Guillaumont and Kpodar (2012) also discovered that not only does aid stabilise
resources available for the financing of consumption, investment and trade, but it is also
effective in aid-dependent and vulnerable countries (also see Collier, 2007). Guillaumont
and Korachais (2008) further discovered that income instability affects poverty through
growth and also impacts poverty through increase in income inequality.
Guillaumont and Wagner (2014) justifies that “if macroeconomic instability generates
poverty and if aid has a stabilizing impact, it should be expected that due to this impact,
aid contributes to poverty reduction not only by increasing the rate of growth but also by
making this growth more pro-poor” (Guillaumont & Wagner, 2014, p. 27). The paper,
however, noted that this field of aid effectiveness, through stabilisation impact, is fairly
new and has not been tested empirically.
3.4. Other channels of international cooperation to poverty eradication
Guisan et al. (2015) offers an estimation of the quantitative impact of seven channels of
international cooperation to development and poverty eradication in developing
countries, including not only foreign official aid, but also private aid, foreign trade,
remittances and other channels. The results show that the impact is usually positive,
particularly when the flows from international cooperation are used to improve
education, health, infrastructures, industry and development.
4. Debate on the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid
The above discussion on the theoretical link between foreign aid, growth and poverty is
supportive of the idea that foreign aid is necessary for stimulating economic growth and
reducing poverty in developing countries. The main argument was that poor countries
were poor due to an insufficient savings rate or insufficient savings for other reasons (the
saving rate may be high, but the income per capita is very low). The proposed solution
was to fill this savings gap using outside aid. Foreign aid injection would allow developing
countries to ‘take off’ due to increased growth rates in the short run and transition to a
higher steady-state income level. This section presents some of the main debates in the
aid effectiveness literature.
4.1. Theoretical criticism of the effectiveness of foreign aid
According to Shleifer (2009), the early critics of foreign aid were: Friedman (1958) and
Bauer (1972; 2000). When the majority of the early development theorists were justifying
the importance of aid using the big push theory and the gap models, Bauer (1972)
criticized the big push model arguing that foreign aid will lead to misallocation of scarce
resources and destroy economic incentives and therefore would not boost economic
growth. Bauer (2000) criticised the argument that developing countries can break out of
the poverty trap through foreign aid. He reasoned that:
“Development aid is … not necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of
poverty. Indeed, it is far more likely to keep them in that state [italics added]. It promotes
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dependence on others. It encourages the idea that emergence from poverty depends on
external donations rather than on people’s own efforts, motivation, arrangements, and
institutions” (Bauer, 2000, p. 46)8.
Friedman (1958), on the other hand, was more critical of the perceived role of foreign aid,
and observed that:
“Foreign economic aid is widely regarded as a weapon in the ideological war in
which the United States is now involved. Its assigned role is to help win over to our
side those uncommitted nations that are also underdeveloped and poor … The
objectives of foreign economic aid are commendable. The means are, however,
inappropriate to the objectives … The proponents of foreign aid have unwittingly
adopted a basic premise of the Communist ideology that foreign aid is intended to
combat. They have accepted the view that centralized and comprehensive economic
planning and control by government is an essential prerequisite for economic
development …. An effective program must be based on our ideology, not on the
ideology we are fighting” (Friedman, 1958, pp. 63, 77-78).
Thus, Friedman (1958) and Bauer (1972; 2000) criticized the precise findings of the
theoretical argument, that, foreign aid can lead to development and poverty reduction in
developing countries.
4.2. Aid dependency syndrome
According to Doucouliagos and Paldam (2006), the motive of aid and the empirical
discussions on the effectiveness of aid in the late 1960s and mid-1970s was the use of aid
as a political tool. The dominant viewpoint then was that poverty in developing countries
was due to the exploitation by the rich capitalist world. Thus, aid was treated as a
compensation for the past wrongs. Early empirical studies by Griffin (1970) and
Weisskopf (1972) found that aid was counterproductive as it had a tendency of replacing
domestic saving, thereby creating aid dependency. Friedman (1958) and Bauer (1972)
also argued that foreign aid causes dependency by making resources available for
governments to expand public spending, often pursuing flawed (socialist or populist)
policies that are harmful in the long run. It is also argued that ‘excessive aid’ may distort
the economy of a recipient country, leading to an aid dependent low-growth economy
(Doucouliagos & Paldam, 2006, p. 232). A more recent study by Hansen and Tarp (2000)
shows that the optimum amount of aid is about 10-20% of the recipient country’s GDP
and beyond that point, aid dependency becomes an increasing problem. Moyo (2009, p.
28) argue that aid “perpetuates the cycle of poverty and derails sustainable economic
4.3. Poverty and development traps
As discussed in the theoretical link between foreign aid and poverty, some of the
arguments for foreign aid allocation are the concepts of poverty and development traps. It
was argued that developing countries are ‘trapped’ in poverty and underdevelopment and
that they need outside assistance to ‘escape the traps’. Kraay (2005) stated that in spite of
the popularity and plausibility of poverty traps from theoretical literature, very few
empirical studies found evidence of the existence of poverty traps. One of the researchers
who attributes the underdevelopment in Africa to poverty traps is Sachs (2005); however,
Collier (2007, p. 5) argued that “poverty is not intrinsically a trap”. Kraay (2005, p. 3)
further asserted that there is “little compelling evidence that such [poverty] traps exist”.
8 This quote was taken from Brumm (2003, p. 167).
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
Sachs (2005) and Collier (2007) have expounded further on how the development traps
keep poor countries poorer. Collier (2007, p. 5), used the examples from empirical studies,
to assert that poor countries are facing one or more of four development traps, namely:
conflict trap, the natural resource trap, the trap of being landlocked with bad neighbours,
and the trap of bad governance in a small country. Collier (2007) concluded that though
properly structured and targeted aid can help poor countries overcome some of these
development traps; however, “aid does have serious problems, and more especially
serious limitations aid alone will not be sufficient to turn the societies of the bottom
billion around, [though aid] is part of the solution rather than part of the problem”
(Collier, 2007, p. 123). Moyo (2009) strongly disagreed, stating: “the problem is that aid is
not benign — it's malignant. No longer part of the potential solution, it's part of the
problem — in fact aid is the problem” (Moyo, 2009, p. 47).
4.4. The Dutch disease
One of the channels through which foreign aid can hurt the local economy and lead to
increase in poverty is through a process called the ‘Dutch disease’. Aid comes in the form
of foreign exchange9. To use this money locally the government has to sell foreign
exchange in order to get the local currency equivalent. The buyers of foreign exchange in a
local economy are mainly importers, which mean that the main determinant of demand
for foreign exchange is demand for imports. Without foreign aid, an economy pays for its
imports through exports (the main generator of foreign exchange). Now with foreign aid,
importers can choose to get foreign exchange from exporters or foreign aid. Thus, foreign
aid is now in direct competition with exporters: more aid means less need for exports,
leading to reduced earnings for exporters. According to Collier (2007, p. 162), the
mechanism that generates this effect is the exchange rate. An increase in foreign aid leads
to an increase of foreign exchange in the local economy, which in turn leads to the
appreciation of the exchange rate. An appreciation of the exchange means that a dollar
earned by an exporter is now worth less in terms of local currency. Foreign aid may crowd
out exporters, thereby killing the export competitiveness of the already poor economies.
One possible solution is to ensure that foreign aid is accompanied by trade liberalisation,
which increases the demand for imports by making them cheaper without the need to
appreciate the exchange rate (Collier, 2007, p. 163). Stiglitz (2007, p. 148) also
recommended that a country must spend part of the foreign resource currency from aid
on imports and keep some of the rest abroad.
4.5. Diminishing returns to aid and aid-absorptive capacity
According to Collier (2007), foreign aid is subject to what is called ‘diminishing returns’.
This means that as donor countries keep on increasing the amount of aid to a recipient
country, the returns from each additional dollar tend to decrease.
Clunies-Ross, et al. (2009, p. 595) define aid-absorptive capacity as ‘the maximum amount
that a country can effectively use’. A study by Radelet et al. (2004) showed that their
category of aid (termed ‘short-impact aid’) had no effect on growth when it got to 8
percent of the recipient country’s GDP; thereafter, the additional foreign aid had a
negative effect on growth. Burnside and Dollar (2000) also found that the larger the
current amount of aid, the smaller the additional growth benefit from extra aid. According
to Collier (2007, p.100), without any change in aid absorption capacity, the doubling of aid
envisioned in the MDGs might have exceeded the limits to aid absorption. Clunies-Ross et
9 Mostly USA dollars, British pounds and euros.
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
al. (2009), however, argued that aid-absorptive capacity can still be increased through
training, reduction of corruption and capacity building (or technical assistance). Recent
studies (Gomanee, et al., 2003; Guillaumont & Wagner, 2014) showed that there are two
thresholds: lower and upper aid thresholds. The lower threshold justifies the need for a
‘big-push’ (Guillaumont, 2011, p. 8).
4.6. Fungibility of aid
Foreign aid is said to be fungible10 when a portion or the entire amount of aid money
earmarked for a particular purpose (which would have been financed anyway) is freeing
resources for another purpose that would not have been funded otherwise (Guillaumont
& Wagner, 2014, p. 17). A seminal paper by Boone (1996) found that aid is fungible. The
World Bank (1998) argues that foreign aid (especially project aid) is fungible and this
reduces aid effectiveness. Another study by Feyzioglu et al. (1998) found aid to be fungible
in some economic sectors such as education, agriculture and energy, but found evidence of
fungibility in the transport and communication sectors.
However, recent studies have produced mixed results. Mavrotas and Ouattara (2006) did
not find evidence of aid fungibility in a case study of three countries11. A study by Dreher,
et al. (2008) found that, though aid allocated to education sector was fungible, it led to a
positive impact on school enrolment. Guillaumont and Wagner, (2014, p. 18) argued that
even if aid is fungible, it does not mean that it is less effective. They further argue that the
recipient government may use the extra resources to finance other sectors which are ‘pro-
poor’, such as agriculture. Thus, fungibility can be either good or bad depending on the
recipient government’s decision on the use of released resources. However, Moyo (2009)
argued that the majority of African governments have been diverting freed resources to
worthless and detrimental agendas such as corruption.
4.7. Foreign aid volatility
According to Lele and Goldsmith (1989), donors’ aid commitments and the actual aid
flows are not always in sync. This causes mistrust, increasing the risk of aid being used to
support non-productive expenditures. Mosley and Suleiman (2007) further argued
volatility of aid flows affects relationships between donors’ organizations which will in
turn affect total aid flows to recipient countries. Furthermore, the failure to sustain aid
flows weakens the political base of support for developmental expenditure (Mosley &
Suleiman, 2007, p. 140). Chauvet and Guillaumont (2009, p. 452), however, found that
even if aid is volatile, it “is not clearly as pro-cyclical as is often argued, and, even if pro-
cyclical, is not necessarily destabilizing”. They further argued that foreign aid has a
stabilizing impact with respect to exports and income volatility.
4.8. Foreign aid and consumption
Boone (1996) showed that foreign aid does not increase investment, has zero effect on
growth and does not reduce poverty (using human development indicators as proxies).
Paradoxically, the study found that aid increases the size of the recipient government’s
consumption expenditure. According to Moyo (2009), aid can be inflationary as it leads to
increased demand for locally produced non-tradable goods and imports.
10 Fungibility is said to occur when the marginal increase in sectoral expenditure following the
receipt of aid is lower than the marginal amount of foreign aid dedicated to this particular sector.
Fungibility can be total, if aid does not have any impact on the targeted sector, or partial, if the
impact is lower than the total amount of aid affected.
11 The three countries are Philippines, Costa Rica and Pakistan.
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
4.9. Foreign aid, corruption, governance and policies
Moyo (2009) argued that because aid is fungible, it is easily stolen, redirected and
extracted, leading to increased rent seeking and corruption. Burnside and Dollar (2000
and 2004) emphasised that aid is only effective in its goals if the recipient country has
good policies and quality institutions. A study by Barro (1999) argued that democracy
helps in combating corruption and also encourages more redistribution of income from
rich to the poor. The World Bank (2002, p. 8) stated: "We have learned that corruption,
bad policies, and weak governance will make aid ineffective."
4.10. Macro-micro paradox
Mosley (1987) is credited for coining the phrase, ‘macro-micro paradox’ of aid. This was
out of the general observation that while most micro or project-related studies were quite
clear about the effectiveness of foreign aid, macro-level studies could not offer such clarity
(McGillivray et al., 2006, p. 1032). For example, while evaluations of aid effectiveness at
the microeconomic level continue to indicate positive rates of return (World Bank, 2008;
Rajan & Subramanian, 2008) conclude that at macro levels “it is difficult to discern any
systematic effect of aid on growth”. A recent study by Arndt et al. (2010, p. 1) used some
modern micro methods to evaluate macro phenomenon concluded that “there is no micro-
macro paradox” after finding positive effects of aid on growth from both the micro and
macro perspectives.
5. Summary of Findings and Conclusion
The main objective of this study is to highlight some of the main debates on the
effectiveness of foreign aid on poverty reduction, through a review of both theoretical and
empirical literature. The main findings from this exploratory study are that there is no
generally accepted economic theory upon which foreign aid allocation is based, and the
debates on the effectiveness of foreign aid on poverty reduction is still far from over.
Several theories have been advanced, but each of these has been heavily criticized. Results
from empirical studies are still diverse. There are two distinct and extreme lines of
thought: those who believe that foreign aid can contribute to a virtuous circle of economic
growth and poverty reduction against the other group which contend that foreign aid
leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and stunted development. Perhaps the debate needs to
shift to “What makes aid work or how to make aid work?” In this regard there are some
interesting studies, as those cited in section 3.4, showing the positive effect of several
channels of foreign aid in the diminution of poverty, and increase of quality of life, of
recipient developing countries.
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Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
Roser and Ortiz-Ospina(2017)
Global Extreme Poverty
by Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina [cite]
First published in 2013; substantive revision March 27, 2017.
The number of people in poverty over the past two centuries
We have seen that the chance of being born into poverty has declined dramatically
over the last 200 years. But what about the absolute number of people living in extreme
The visualization below combines the information on the share of extreme poverty
shown in the last chart, with the number of people living in the world. For the years
prior to 1970, we use the estimates of people ‘living in poverty’ from Bourguignon and
Morrison (2002) as shown in the previous chart; from 1981, we use the World Bank
As we can see, in 1820 there were just under 1.1 billion people in the world, of which
more than 1 billion lived in extreme poverty. Over the next 150 years, the decline of
poverty was not fast enough to offset the very rapid rise of the world population, so the
number of non-poor and poor people increased. Since around 1970, however, we are
living in a world in which the number of non-poor people is rising, while the number of
poor people is falling. According to the estimates shown below, there were 2.2 billion
people living in extreme poverty in 1970, and there were 705 million people living in
extreme poverty in 2015. The number of extremely poor people in the world is 3 times
lower than in 1970.
In 1990, there were 2 billion people living in extreme poverty. With a reduction to 705
million in 2015, this means that on average, every day in the 25 years between 1990
and 2015, 137,000 fewer people were living in extreme poverty.6
On every day in the last 25 years there could have been a newspaper headline reading,
“The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 137,000 since yesterday”.
Unfortunately, the slow developments that entirely transform our world never make the
news, and this is the very reason why we are working on this online publication.”
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
Source: Roser and Ortiz-Ospina(2017)
Failure of Foreign Aid in Developing Countries: A Quest for Alternatives. Bus Eco J 7:231.
Final Conclusions: “Not refute foreign aid as such, its usefulness will occur when contracted
to be used in the government’s short and long term public investment (infrastructure) and
human capital (health and education) which is likely to create enabling environment for
industries, foreign investors. To yield results the foreign, once directly injected in the
productive investment projects, making it possible for the gain of the weight of local
currency… Conditionality attached to it should be waved so as to maximize its usefulness. It
can also be used in institutional consolidation and building to create fertile grounds enabling
transparency and confidence from donor community.”
Aka and Guisan(2017) and Guisan(2014):
In Guisan, Aguayo and Exposito(2016) we present a quantification of the main
sources of international cooperation to development at World level. We distinguish 7
channels of foreign aid, in descending order accordingly to the amount received per
head, on average, in developing countries (Dollars in year 2010), as contribution to
increase economic development in those countries: 1) Foreign trade (Exports from
developing countries to other areas, 628 Dollars per head in year 2010), 2) Foreign
Direct Investment net stock (543 Dollars per head). 3) Financial support: investment
less savings (97 Dollars per head). 4) Foreign tourism expenditure in developing
countries (63 Dollars per head), 5) Private aid and donations (39 Dollars per head).
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
6) Private aid through remittances from other countries to developing countries (38).
7) Official Development Aid (23 Dollars per head)).
Graph 1 shows the impact of the increase of production per head on the diminution of
the poverty rate. Graph 2 shows that the increase of education shows, usually a great
positive impact on economic development for countries with and average of 6 or more
years of schooling per adult. Graph 3 shows the positive impact of investment per head
on production per head. Graph 4 shows the important role of industrial development
on economic development.”
Graph 1. Poverty and Production per head Graph 2. Production per head and Education
-20,000 0 20,000 40,000 60,000
-4 0 4 8 12 16
Note: POV05X is the percentage of people with income below 2 Dollars a day in year 2005. PH05PP05 is
Gross Domestic Product per head, in Dollars, in year 2005, at 2005 prices and Purchasing Power Parities
(PPPs). TYR05F is the average years of schooling of adult population Source: Guisan(2014) with data of
132 countries (38 from Africa) from World Bank Statistics, Barro and Lee and other international sources.
Graph 3. Investment and development Graph 4. Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing
-5,000 0 5,000 10,000 15,000
-4,000 0 4,000 8,000 12,000
Source: Guisan(2014) elaborated from WB and international statistics. Note: PH and IH are,
respectively, Gross Domestic Product per head and Investment per head. QMH and QNMH are
Production in Manufacturing (M) and Non-Manufacturing(NM). Values at 2005 USD PPPs.
Revista Galega de Economia Vol. 26-2 (2017)
Comments to interesting books related with poverty and international cooperation,
at the Blog of the Euro-American Association of Economic Development Studies
( and publishers Webs:
Books of Arvin and other ones selection at that Blog:
1) Arvin and Lew(2015). Handbook on the Economics of Foreign Aid. Published by
Edward Elgar Publishing
2) Collier(2007): "The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What
Can Be Done About It"
Book by Arvin and Lee (eds) at the publisher Website:
Chapter 6: MDGs and international cooperation: an analysis of private and public
aid and the role of education,
Maria-Carmen Guisan, Eva Aguayo and Pilar Exposito
“The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among other factors, have
increased interest in the challenges facing international cooperation in development to
alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development. Many debates have focused on
the role of official development aid (ODA). At the same time, it is also important to analyze
other channels of international cooperation, including the role of private aid, foreign
investment, trade and other factors relevant to development. As stated in the report by
the US Agency for International Development (USAID, 2014): Thirty years ago, 70% of
resource flows from the US to the developing world came in the form of ODA. Today, 80%
of those resource flows come from foreign direct investment, private donations,
remittances, and other non-governmental sources. ODA accounts for only 14% of these
resource flows today, underscoring the increasing importance of the private sector in the
development process. Adelman et al. (2013) present an interesting report on global
philanthropy and remittances, based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and other sources. They estimate
that the US contribution to developing countries in the year 2011 was around $278.5
billion, where ODA accounted only for $30.9 billion (11 percent), while private
philanthropy accounted for $39 billion (14 percent), remittances for $100.2 billion (36
percent) and private capital flows for $108.4 billion (39 percent).”
Revista Galega de Economia: http://www.usc .es/econo/RGE/benvidag.htm
... Believing that underprivileged children are unable to study simply paralyzes them. Children in government schools do not receive a quality education since many government school teachers do not care to visit the school, and students who attend these schools do not receive the education they deserve (Mahembe, 2017) . The only way to remedy this problem is for the government to get involved. ...
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Purpose: The study's goal is to look into the impact of poverty on schooling in rural Pakistan. The purpose of the research is to see if pupils in Pakistan are truly affected by the country's economic situation and how much a standard of life can influence a student's education rural community. Design/Methodology/Approach: This research study used a cross-sectional survey design to scientifically analyze and identifies or discusses various dimension of poverty that impacts education. The data was obtained using a questionnaire from a sample of 650 respondents drawn from the area. Using regression analysis and other results performed through STATA and Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS). Findings: In Pakistan, there is a long list of educational issues. We may not have the ability to change the system, but we do have the ability to change ourselves. As a result, many in positions of power are unconcerned about the government schools' weak educational system. Because parents' income is insufficient to sustain the entire family, Pakistan's rising poverty forces every member of the household to work. In this situation how can a poor man care about his children's education when he has nothing to eat. Implications/Originality/Value: Education, more than ever, is the key to escaping poverty, while poverty remains the most significant barrier to education.
... De Matteis (2013) shows that when aid allocation targets a poverty-focused perspective its effectiveness in poverty reduction is amplified. Guillaumont and Wagner (2014) and Mahembe and Odhiambo (2017) underline that foreign aid could be pro-poor without impacting monetary poverty. The reason is that aid used to fund infrastructure and public social expenditure that benefit the poor people promotes universal access to primary education and health care. ...
... De Matteis (2013) shows that when aid allocation targets a poverty-focused perspective its effectiveness in poverty reduction is amplified. Guillaumont and Wagner (2014) and Mahembe and Odhiambo (2017) underline that foreign aid could be pro-poor without impacting monetary poverty. The reason is that aid used to fund infrastructure and public social expenditure that benefit the poor people promotes universal access to primary education and health care. ...
This study investigates the nexus between foreign aid and economic outcomes in recipient countries and examines the aid rules to promote its effectiveness. Analyses aim to provide an overview of the two important points in aid literature: aid effectiveness and aid allocation. First, we focus on internal and external factors that can explain why foreign aid is effective in some recipient countries but ineffective in others. Both theoretical and empirical analyses are explored. Second, our work discusses the principal elements influencing aid rules often qualified as suboptimal. Finally, we analyze the criteria and conditions for an optimal allocation of aid, taking into account recipient characteristics and donors’ preferences.
... Additionally, states that receive international food assistance from other donor countries have been affected in their access to food due to trade barriers such as export restrictions and additional import controls or tariffs (Cardwell & Ghazalian, 2020). Although the debate on the effectiveness of foreign aid on poverty reduction is controversial, some studies show the positive effect of foreign assistance in diminishing poverty and increasing quality of life in recipient countries (Mahembe & Odhiambo, 2017). Thus, these countries could face several problems with the interruption of those aids, which could worsen the food security of the recipient countries. ...
Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, international trade was particularly important to guarantee the supply of medical and other goods. This article analyses COVID-19 trade-related policies found in the World Trade Organization (WTO) system from February to October 2020. We used the Database of WTO members’ notifications on COVID-19, including information on 198 notifications. It allows us to observe the trend of notifications, countries and products most affected, types of measures, and the adherence to the WTO’s guidelines. Our findings show two waves of notifications. In the first wave, countries acted unilaterally with little regard to multilateral tools. However, in the second wave, characterized by the predominance of trade-facilitating measures, a trend towards multilateral actions is observed through the establishment of “declarations”. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies were the most affected products, but agricultural and food products have also been heavily affected.
... Apart from economic growth, other channels through which foreign aid affects poverty include: (i) its influence on the public-sector spending of the recipient government which might lead to human development and welfare indicators; (ii) stabilisation of the recipient country's economic growth; and (iii) building of democratic and economic institutions, among other things (Mahembe & Odhiambo, 2017). This study, however, is aimed at examining the causal relationship between foreign aid, poverty and economic growth. ...
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This article examines the causal relationship between foreign aid, poverty, and economic growth in 82 developing countries for the period 1981–2013. Taking advantage of the recently developed dynamic panel data estimation techniques, the paper tests for both panel unit roots and cointegration before employing the panel vector error-correction model (VECM) Granger causality test. The main findings are that in the short run, there is evidence of (a) a bidirectional causal relationship between economic growth and poverty; (b) a unidirectional causal relationship from economic growth to foreign aid; and (c) unidirectional causality from poverty to foreign aid. In the long-run, the study found that (a) foreign aid tends to converge to its long-run equilibrium path in response to changes in economic growth and poverty; and (b) both economic growth and poverty jointly Granger cause foreign aid.
... The relationship between foreign aid and poverty reduction has been debated to great lengths, with some proposing that foreign aid leads to a vicious circle of low growth and high poverty and others proposing that foreign aid may be used to form a virtuous cycle, where reforms focused on alleviating poverty will result in higher growth, which in turn will mitigate poverty ( (Perry et al., 2006). There also exists a third school of thought that suggests that examining the channels through which foreign aid affects poverty may provide a clearer picture (Mahembe & Odhiambo, 2017). For our paper, we will first assess the channels through which foreign aid assists in poverty alleviation. ...
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In theory, poverty reduction is associated with economic growth and equal access to opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their age, gender and income. Pakistan has reduced its poverty headcount by nearly 66% between 2002–2016, despite poor governance, weak institutions, mediocre economic growth, and poor social indicators. Using ADL/VAR and Granger causality tests, the paper empirically proves that change in political regimes, openness of media and foreign aid have contributed to alleviation of poverty in the country. The paper finds that the shift towards a stable democratic regime has facilitated the delivery of social services, regardless of the motive. Furthermore, it finds that free flow of information through the media has created an awareness among the masses about their rights; the access to information has led to a more equitable distribution of social services. Foreign aid has also contributed to alleviating poverty by focusing on targeted programs towards different groups with the help of various international organizations. These finding have important implications for interactions between the developed and underdeveloped economies as well as the economic and social benefits of democratic regimes.
... Moreover, it also uses three different proxies for poverty, and five proxies for foreign aid. The main gap in the AEL, however, is the lack of analysis of the channels through which foreign aid affects poverty (Mahembe and Odhiambo, 2017). One of the objectives of this study is to test whether foreign aid can impact poverty through enhancement of democracy (political and economic freedom). ...
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Purpose This paper aims to assess whether official development assistance (ODA) or foreign aid has been effective in reducing extreme poverty; test whether the type and source of aid matter; and examine whether political or economic freedom enhances aid effectiveness in developing countries. Design/methodology/approach The study uses recent dynamic panel estimation techniques (system generalised method of moments), including those methods which deal with endogeneity by controlling for simultaneity and unobserved heterogeneity. Findings The main findings of the study are: firstly, foreign aid does have a statistically significant poverty reduction effect and the results are consistent across all the three extreme poverty proxies. Secondly, the disaggregation of aid by source and type shows that total aid, grant and bilateral aid are more likely to reduce poverty. Thirdly, political freedom might not be an effective channel through which aid impacts extreme poverty, but aid is more effective in an environment where there is respect for freedom of enterprise. Research limitations/implications As with most cross-country aid–growth–poverty dynamic panel data studies, the challenges of establishing robust causality and accounting for the unobserved country-specific heterogeneity remain apparent. However, given the data availability constraints, generalised method of moments is, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, the most robust empirical strategy when T < N. Future research could explore possibilities of individual country analysis, disaggregating countries by income and also examining the direction of causality between foreign aid, poverty and democracy. Practical implications The policy implications are that the development partners should continue to focus on poverty reduction as the main objective for ODA; aid allocation should be focused on channels which have more poverty-reduction effect, such as per capita income and economic freedom; and aid recipient countries should also focus on reducing inequality. Social implications The main social implications from this study is that it is possible to reduce poverty through ODA. Second, to enhance the effectiveness of foreign aid, ODA allocation should be focussed on channels, which have more poverty-reduction effect, and the host countries should have economic freedom. Originality/value This paper makes a further contribution to the aid effectiveness literature, especially the channels through which foreign aid affects poverty.
This study seeks to analyse whether countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are using climate finance for poverty alleviation. It investigates SSA’s readiness to apply climate finance to achieve poverty alleviation goals. Data for 44 SSA countries over the period 2006–2017 were employed and analysed, using System Generalized Method of Moment. Two poverty alleviation variables are employed; GDP per capita and social inequality. Readiness was segregated into social, economic and governance readiness. The findings show that climate finance helps poverty alleviation. However, climate finance indicated a worsening effect on social inequality when countries strengthen regulatory quality and control of corruption. The study finds evidence to support that economic readiness is relatively important in eradicating poverty compared with social and governance readiness. It is recommended that climate funds should be disbursed through channels (social and governance readiness), which would yield more poverty-reduction effects, under greater supervision.
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This study examines the effect of foreign aid on extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the period 1981–2013. The study uses recent dynamic panel estimation techniques, including those methods which deal with endogeneity by controlling for simultaneity and unobserved heterogeneity. The main findings of the study are summarized as follows: firstly, foreign aid does have a statistically significant poverty reduction effect in SSA. Secondly, the disaggregation of aid by source and type shows that total ODA, grants and multilateral aid have poverty reduction effects. Thirdly, democracy enhances the effectiveness of foreign aid in reducing poverty. Lastly, GDP per capita and globalization reduce extreme poverty, while inequality has a detrimental effect on the fight against poverty. This study confirms that the volume of aid matters as well as how it is allocated. The policy implications of these findings are that development partners should continue to focus on poverty reduction as the main objective for ODA. Further, aid allocation should be focused on channels which have more poverty-reduction effects, such as GDP per capita and democracy. Finally, aid recipient countries should come-up with income distributional policies that allow the benefits of growth to accrue to many people, thereby lifting the majority out of extreme poverty.
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Purpose: This study investigates the effectiveness of health-aid in Nigeria, with focus on child health outcomes. In particular, the study aims to examine whether health aid has yielded significant gains in child health in Nigeria. Methodology/Approach/Design: Secondary data on neonatal, infant and under 5 mortality as well as measles and DPT immunization were used. The stationarity of the variables was ascertained using the augmented Dickey-Fuller and Philip-Perron unit root tests. In order to confirm the presence or otherwise of long-run relationship among the selected variables, Johansen cointegration test was carried out and the obtained coefficients and p-values indicate evidences of long-run relationship. Finally, the study used the fully modified ordinary least square (FMOLS) estimator to examine the effects of aid targeted at children health on the various child health outcomes. Results: The results suggest the existence of long-run relationships between health aid and child health indicators, with aid having reducing impacts on the mortality indicators and a positive correlation with child immunization coverage. Also, public health expenditure, literacy rate and urbanization rate are negatively correlated with measures of children mortality and positively correlated with the measures of immunization coverage. Except for infant mortality, economic growth proxy by GDP growth rate has insignificant effect on child health. Practical Implications: Sustained improvement in children health is the core objective of aids aimed at children's health, and findings of this research will serve as a framework for health policymakers in understanding the contributions of health aid inflow to specific indicators of child health in Nigeria. Originality/Value: This study makes a number of contributions to the ongoing discussion on the effectiveness of health-specific ODA in Nigeria. Despite the inconclusiveness of the health aid-health outcomes literature, this study has shown that children health aid has led to improvement in children health in Nigeria. While previous studies have focused on child mortality indicators, this study examined the effect on various measures of children health including children immunization coverage.
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As stated in previous work (Aka 2016) the Basic Income Grant (BIG) could represent a powerful policy of changing the Ivorian society, and the building block of financial, economic and social inclusion through prosperity sharing in Côte d'Ivoire. The political will and courage are needed for implementation of this achievable challenge and international cooperation may be a financial support. Here we analyze poverty, development, quality of life (including health and education indicators) and several channels for international cooperation to development with particular focus on seven Western Africa countries: the French speaking countries of WAEMU: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d´Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, with particular focus on trade, investment and contribution to industrial development. With a combination of these policies two goals may be reached: increase sustainable development and, as a consequence, diminution of the poverty ratio, and to increase the amount per capita to provide ultimately a universal BIG but firstly to the poorest people. The article includes several indicators of development and quality of life in these countries and their international relationships with Europe and other areas.
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This paper analyzes the role of wealth distribution in macroeconomics through investment in human capital. It is shown that in the presence of credit markets' imperfections and indivisibilities in investment in human capital, the initial distribution of wealth affects aggregate output and investment both in the short and in the long run, as there are multiple steady states. This paper therefore provides an additional explanation for the persistent differences in per-capita output across countries. Furthermore, the paper shows that cross-country differences in macroeconomic adjustment to aggregate shocks can be attributed, among other factors, to differences in wealth and income distribution across countries.
We outline in this chapter the concept of the balance-of-payments equilibrium growth rate, as originally developed by Thirlwall (1979, 1982a), and then show its empirical application to a wide range of developed and less developed countries, drawing also on the recent work of Bairam (1988, 1990). The two original papers by Thirlwall are presented here basically in their original form, but with some modifications.