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Development Despots: Foreign Aid, Domestic Politics, and the Quality of Governance

By Barak Hoffman, University of California San Diego*

PRELIMNARY DRAFT

ABSTRACT

While scholars tend to agree that easily exploitable natural resources impact institutional development, most studies of foreign aid treat institutions as exogenous to aid. The bifurcation of the two literatures is curious. Because foreign aid and natural resource exports both are sources of unearned revenue, they should have similar impacts on institutional development. The empirical results of this paper suggest that aid does have an impact on institutional development similar to the impact of easily exploitable natural resources. In particular, the results show that providing aid to central governments facilitates the maintenance of patronage-based political systems. The policy implication is that the method of distributing foreign aid is a fundamental determinant of the effectiveness of foreign aid.

Development Despots: Foreign Aid, Domestic Politics, and the Quality of GovernanceIntroduction

It seems paradoxical, but countries blessed with sources of unearned income often experience more harm than good from this luck. Scholars argue that because the governments of such endowed countries need to make fewer concessions to their publics than those reliant on their domestic population for revenue, they can get away with a host of pernicious activities. Indeed, the evidence suggests that countries with easily exploitable natural resources tend to have slow rates of economic growth, high levels of corruption, and more autocratic regimes.

But what can we expect about the institutions and performance of those countries blessed with an abundance of foreign aid? Curiously, scholars who study foreign aid do not consider it unearned income, but as a somewhat idiosyncratic source of revenue. And yet it has precisely the characteristics of, and should be subject to the same theorizing as, any type of unearned income. Foreign aid and natural resource exports should impact development differently only if there are conditions on aid that prohibit a government from using aid in the same way it would use export revenue. In this paper, I show that aid and natural resource exports have a broadly similar impact on political and economic development. Specifically, like natural resource exports, foreign aid appears to impede the development of accountable political institutions.

A Fiscal Theory of the State

State development can be modeled as the outcome of bargains between heterogeneous agents. More narrowly, a governments need for revenue and sources of revenue strongly influence a countrys pattern of development because of the impact of resource distribution on bargaining power within the state. Bates and Lien (1985), for example, present a formal model of the choice that rulers face in raising revenue. By assuming that tax compliance is to a certain extent voluntary (because at least some assets are mobile), a government has an incentive to defer to citizens policy preferences when a governments need for revenue rises. Moore (1995) extends the theoretical model of Bates and Lien (1985) by claiming that foreign aid and easily exploitable natural resources reduce the need for the government to collect taxes and, as a result, decrease the exigency for the government to develop accountable political structures. Olsons (2000) model of the stationary bandit follows a similar logic, but focuses more on coercion than bargaining. According to Olson (2000), a stationary bandit has an incentive to provide public goods because economic development increases the taxable wealth of society. Because stationary bandits have an incentive to provide public benefits, people living under the stationary bandits rule will consent to taxation.

The bargaining models discussed above have been applied to the process of European state building. Tilly (1992) and Bates (2001), for example, argue that bargaining for revenue unintentionally created the foundation for modern representative government because raising revenue for war required negotiation and concessions. Along the same lines, Hoffman and Norberg (1994) note that while providing selective incentives in return for revenue was more effective in permitting monarchical flexibility in the short-term, bargaining for revenue through representative institutions provided monarchs far greater extractive capacity, and ultimately, a much more powerful state. [1]

Theories that link sources of revenue to patterns of development in Europe have been extended to other regions and to more current periods. Herbst (2000), for example, argues that foreign aid and natural resource wealth has diminished the need for governments in sub-Saharan Africa to implement policies that reduce resistance to taxation because external sources of state finance decrease governments need for taxes. [2] Consequently, long-term dependence on foreign aid has undermined the quality of governance because a diminished need to collect taxes reduces the pressure for accountability (Brautigam 2000). Along the same lines, Tornell and Lane (1998) claim that in countries with low levels of social cohesion, windfall profits lead to a prisoners dilemma because a group that tries to conserve the stock of public assets by refraining from appropriation has no reason to believe it will gain from its sacrifice: the assets it has spared will be captured by some other group. [3]

There is substantial empirical evidence to support the theory that easily exploitable natural resources are an obstacle to development as well. Data show that countries that have high ratios of resource exports to GDP have lower quality institutions (e.g., less secure property rights, opaque legal structures, and more corruption) than countries with low ratios of resource exports to GDP have (Sachs and Warner 1998). Evidence also shows that windfall profits from natural resource exports encourages one-party dominance and autocratic regimes (Wantchekon 1999; Ross 2001).

Aid and the Distribution of Bargaining Power

While scholars argue that resource exports affect development through institutions, numerous studies of how aid impacts development treat institutions as exogenous. [4] The results of these studies have been inconclusive. Collier and Dollar (2001) and World Bank (1998), for example, find that aid encourages economic growth in countries with sound economic policies while Svensson (1999) and Kosack (2003) find that aid is effective but only in democracies. [5] Alternatively, Dalgaard and Hansen (2001) and Hansen and Tarp (2000) argue that aid has a positive impact on growth regardless of policies. Finally, Easterly, Levine, and Roodman (2003) find inconsistent results for the impact of aid on growth either alone or when controlling for policies. Although these studies include policies in their models, the models nevertheless are surprisingly apolitical because the standard approaches assumes that aid has no impact on institutions. A crucial problem with these studies, and perhaps a partial explanation for their contradictory results, is that the empirical models assume a direct impact of aid on macroeconomic outcomes, such as investment or growth.

A more theoretically sound treatment of aid on development is to examine how aid affects development through its impact on institutions. A small number of scholars have begun to examine this issue. [6] A common theme in these studies is that aid facilitates patronage-based political systems (Bratton and van de Walle 1997; Gibson and Hoffman 2003). Specifically, because donors have difficulty monitoring the use of aid, recipient governments understand that they can exploit the lack of effective oversight to use aid to maintain and even expand patronage networks (van de Walle 2001). [7] External resources support the existing regime because external resources reduce the costs of reform and of doing nothing - that is avoiding reform (Rodrik 1996 p. 30). As a result, aid can undermine development by relieving pressure on rulers to establish the institutions necessary to encourage productive economic activity. [8] A small number of scholars have examined the issue empirically. [9] This paper builds on these models by examining aid changes political institutions and by testing if aid affects development in a systematically different manner than exports of natural resources.

A Model of the Rational Dictator

In this section, I develop a general model of resource distribution and development. The model generates expectations about the type of concessions policy makers will employ to collect revenue. The model is symmetrical to governments that need to collect revenue and governments that can distribute resources without the need to collect revenue. The model is based on the same micro-foundations as models of state development discussed in the previous section, such as Bates (2001) or Olson (2000), that view state development as the outcome of a series of Pareto-improving bargains between rational heterogeneous agents. I extend these models to show when a utility maximizing rational dictator has an incentive to provide public goods and when a rational dictator has an incentive to provide private goods.

Modeling a Dictators Incentives

Consider a society of N agents one of which (the government) has a comparative advantage in the production of a good with a positive externality (e.g., security) while the other agents (the people) are homogenous to each other. I depart from Olsons (2000) assumption of coercion as an equilibrium by assuming that while the government is certain that each individual agent is less effective than the government in providing security, the government is unsure whether or not the people as a group are more effective in providing security than the government. [10]

Because the government has a comparative advantage in the production of security, the people will consent to paying for security and the government can generate a profit from providing security. While a utility maximizing government seeks to be a discriminating monopolist in the provision of security, because security has spillover effects (e.g., the whole town is made more safe by killing a bandit in one store), the government is not able to exploit fully its monopoly advantage.

Figures one and two show why the government loses its ability to act as a discriminating monopolist if the good it produces has a positive externality. Figure one demonstrates the implications of producing security (or any policy) without spillover effects (private benefit equals social benefit for all quantities of the good produced). Without spillover effects, the government would produce quantity B and charge price A. Total welfare would be the area of triangle 0CE. Because the government is a discriminating monopolist, the government enjoys the entire welfare.

Figure two highlights the implications of producing with positive spillover effects (social benefits exceed private benefits for all quantities of the good produced). With positive spillover effects, the government would still produce quantity B and charge price A. The government also still receives welfare 0CE. However, total welfare when positive externalities exits is 0DCE (0DC is the excess social welfare that the government does not capture). As a result, when the government produces a good with positive externalities, the government fails to capture the entire social welfare through individual transactions. [11] It is also important to note that the optimal quantity of public goods is F. Consequently, societys collective action problem results in under-provision of welfare, or deadweight loss, equal to FCD.

This general discussion, while abstract, identifies an important implication about government policy choices. When a government provides public-type goods, such as infrastructure or security, in return for revenue, the benefit to the government from capturing the profits in the provision of public goods is offset by the reduction in the ability of the government to act as a discriminating monopolist. [12] The model consequently has a clear prediction for one possible condition for the endogenous development of accountable government: when the government has a high need for revenue. Because the only way the government can generate more revenue is by producing more public goods, when the government has a high need for revenue, it has an incentive to (partially) solve societys collective action problem. [13] This coincides with the observation that democracies not only have higher levels of public goods but higher rates of taxation as well. [14]

The model of the government as a discriminating monopolist also generates predictions about government policy preferences when governments have no need to tax. In models where coercion is an equilibrium, a government that needs revenue will provide benefits only if the return on providing benefits is greater than the return on coercion. The incentives facing governments where coercion is not a stable equilibrium are quite different. Assume that the government has access to valuable resources (e.g., gold). Because the people as a group may be stronger than the government, the government must worry that the people may organize to take its resources. In order to prevent this, the government could either use repression or provide benefits (e.g., share its resource wealth). [15] In sharing its wealth, the government will not choose to provide public goods. Instead, the government will provide private goods because their provision allows the government to act as a discriminating monopolist. As a consequence, when coercion is costly, a government with windfall revenue does not have an incentive to provide public goods but will focus on private goods provision. [16] One implication is that governments that have no need to collect revenue from their citizens have no need to develop representative institutions because representative institutions are forums for institutionalizing bargaining between the government and the public (Barutigam 2000). [17]

Implications of the Rational Dictator Model

The Rational Dictator model makes clear predictions about differences in patterns of political development and provision of goods between countries where governments need to generate revenue internally versus countries where governments have external sources of finance. [18]

Aid as Unearned Revenue Hypothesis: Foreign aid should have the same impact on institutional and political structures as mineral/oil wealth does (e.g., coefficients on aid and windfall profits will have the same sign in the empirical tests). For example, Ross (2001) shows that high levels of oil exports lead to more autocratic forms of government. I expect aid to have the same impact.

Public Goods versus Private Goods Hypothesis: Aid favors providing private (selective) goods over public goods because providing private goods allows the government to be a discriminating monopolist.

Executive Dominance Hypothesis: Because representative institutions have the characteristic of a public good, unearned revenue leads to weak representative institutions and reduced political accountability. [19]

Testing the Model

To test the model requires measures of government provision of private and public goods and the relative strength of executives to representative institutions. While it is relatively simple to measure the strength of executives and legislatures, measuring provision of private goods versus public goods is more difficult. Although it is relatively straightforward to determine public goods provision, measuring private goods provision (e.g., patronage) is more complicated than determining the level of public goods provision for a number of reasons. First, in most cases leaders seek to keep information on patronage payments hidden because if rulers make public their distribution of patronage, it could impair the governments ability to provide private goods as a discriminating monopolist and would most likely disrupt the provision of aid. Second, many forms of patronage, such as granting special licenses to supporters for imports or gaining access to foreign currency at preferential exchange rates, defy precise quantification and as a result will not appear in a governments balance sheet.

Nevertheless, even if reliable measures of private goods provision existed, the relative level of selective goods provision to public goods provision still would be difficult to measure. Because private goods are not symmetrical to public goods in their revealed preferences (the free rider problem), examining the level of public goods provision (e.g., schools) relative to the level of private goods provision (e.g., government jobs) is insufficient for determining the governments preference for selective versus public goods provision.

One reasonable proxy for changing degrees of pubic and private goods provision is the degree of uniformity of rules, or their empirically-measurable counterpart, laws. [20] A country that has uniform application of laws can be expected to have a higher degree of public goods provision because one set of rules applies to the entire society. A country with variable and selective provision of laws can be considered to have high degrees of private goods provision because there are as many sets of rules as there are people in the society. Consequently, the degree of selectivity versus uniformity in the provision of laws can serve as a measure for private versus public goods. While the definition of a public good here differs from the typical definition of a public good, such as education, health care, and/or public infrastructure, a measure of the provision of laws along a continuum from arbitrary to uniform captures the widest range of goods provided by the government because it covers purely capricious behavior to strong checks against the power of the government and transparent, uniform application of laws. [21] In addition, because the quality of legal institutions is one of the most important determinants of long-term economic development, testing the impact of aid on the degree of uniformity versus selectivity in the application of laws provides a more comprehensive analysis of the impact of aid on economic development than examining the impact of aid on a more narrow subset of public goods, such as education and/or health care provides. [22]

Data Description

The data cover 1980 through 2000. Following Keefer (2000) and Svensson (2000), data I aggregate aid across the sample period institutions are measured at the end of the sample period. [23]

Private versus Public Goods. Rule of Law, Bureaucratic Independence, Risk of Expropriation, Government Corruption, and Risk of Repudiation. High levels signify that the government provides laws uniformly (public goods) while low levels suggest a high degree of arbitrary provision of rules (private goods). Source: International Country Risk Guide (ICRG).

Competitiveness of Executive and Legislative Elections. Lower values signify less competitive elections. Source: DPI variables EIEC and LIEC.

Veto Players/Political Concentration. Higher values signify greater dispersion of political authority. DPI variable Checks3 and Polcon1 from Henisz (2000).

Foreign aid as a percent of government expenditure (Aid). Source: World Bank World Development Indicators.

Economic Conditions: Log of per capita GDP in 1980 to capture initial conditions (Initial Per Capita GDP). Source: World Development Indicators.

Ethno-linguistic Fractionalization (ELF). Following Easterly and Levine (1997), I use ELF to control for the impact of ethno-linguistic fractionalization on development.

Political Conditions: Polity score in 1980 to capture initial conditions. Source: Polity IV Database.

Natural Resources (fuel/mineral exports): Mineral and fuel exports as a percent of merchandise exports. Source: World Development Indicators.

Polity and Public Goods Data

Before presenting the empirical results, it is important to demonstrate that the data on the provision of private versus public goods is not synonymous with a countrys degree of democracy/autocracy. Tables one through four demonstrate that public versus private goods provision is only an imperfect proxy for regime type. [24] In particular, there are two differences worth noting:

Correlation across Time. The correlation between a countrys polity score and its quality of public goods declines substantially between 1980-1984 and 1995-1999; the decline is greatest between 1990-1994 and 1995-1999.

Distribution of Variables. The data on public versus private goods is close to a normal distribution (i.e., more observations at the center than in the tails) whereas the Polity data approaches a bimodal distribution in 1980-1984 (i.e., most of the observations are at the extreme values). By 1995-1999, the polity data is concentrated heavily in the democratic end of the distribution.

Table 1: Regime Type and Public-Private Goods

         
 

Mean Polity

Median Polity

Mean Public-Private Goods

Median Public-Private Goods

Overall

-1.0

0.5

15.4

15.5

1980-1984

-1.5

-6.9

13.7

12.5

1985-1989

-0.8

-5.7

13.9

12.8

1990-1994

2.4

5.0

16.0

15.5

1995-1999

2.9

6.0

18.4

18.0

 

Table 2: Correlation Between Public-Private Goods and Regime Type

   

Overall

0.60

1980-1984

0.65

1985-1989

0.60

1990-1994

0.56

1995-1999

0.39

 

Table 3: Distribution of Polity

 

 

1980-1984

1995-1999

-10 to -5

49.1%

15.7%

-5 to 0

9.4%

17.4%

1 to 5

5.7%

4.3%

6 to 10

35.8%

62.6%

 

Table 4: Distribution of Public versus Private Goods

 

 

 

 

1980-1984

1995-1999

4 to 10

18.9%

1.7%

11 to 15

43.4%

12.2%

16 to 20

17.9%

47.0%

20 to 24

19.8%

39.1%

Results

Because this paper builds on the results of Keefer (2000) and Svensson (2000), I follow a similar design. Keefer (2000) and Svensson (2000) examine the impact of aid on the ICRG institutional index by averaging annual aid over the sample period on the institutions in the final period. Because aid is likely to be endogenous, Keefer (2000) and Svensson (2000) estimate the model using instrumental variables. Following Keefer (2000) and Svensson (2000), I use the log of the population and infant mortality as instruments for aid. Table five shows the results for the entire sample. Table 5a suggests that aid had little impact on political institutions while table 5b demonstrates that aid negatively impacted the quality of legal institutions.

Table 5a: Full Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polity

Legislative Competition

Executive Competition

Veto Players

Political Concentration

Aid/Expenditure

0.03

-0.0001

0.01

-0.01

-0.001

0.53

0.97

0.63

0.60

0.60

 

 

 

 

 

Oil & Mineral Exports

-0.06**

-0.005

-0.003

-0.01

-0.002**

0.01

0.5

0.48

0.20

0.04

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

2.02**

0.48*

0.64

-0.01

0.09**

0.03

0.07

0.02

0.99

0.05

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.26***

-0.01

0.03

0.07**

0.006

<.01

0.72

0.17

0.04

0.19

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

-2.08

0.56

0.94

0.64

-0.0004

0.33

0.28

0.11

0.31

0.99

 

 

 

 

 

N

73

73

73

73

73

R-squared

0.34

0.14

0.17

0.15

0.31

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

Table 5b: Full Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Institutions Index

Rule of Law

Corruption

Bureaucratic Quality

Contract Enforcement

Property Rights

Aid/Expenditure

-0.11**

-0.02*

0.0003

-0.02***

-0.07***

-0.05***

<.01

0.01

0.95

<.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil & Mineral Exports

-0.02

-0.01*

-0.005

-0.01

-0.002

0.007

0.36

0.09

0.21

0.13

0.81

0.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

0.1

-0.08

0.25

0.17

0.2

-0.18

0.82

0.61

0.09

0.20

0.24

0.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.06

-0.01

0.03*

0.03

0.0002

0.02

0.33

0.66

0.07

0.10

0.99

0.43

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

-1.22

-0.26

-0.36

0.34

-0.59

-0.97

0.41

0.51

0.39

0.39

0.43

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

N

65

65

65

65

65

65

R-squared

0.21

0.01

0.28

0.31

0.15

0.24

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

The full sample however, fails to account for a radical shift in the institutional landscape: the end of the Cold War. Two major changes occurred following the end of the Cold War. First, the average level of aid per country declined. [25] Second, one observation per country does not allow for institutional shifts in Eastern Europe and Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Table six examines pre- and post-Cold War periods, by splitting the data into two samples, pre-1990 and post-1990 and measuring the impact of aid on institutions within each period.

Table six allows for two observations per country. I also add a dummy variable for Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to account for the Soviet Unions demise. The results strongly support the theory; aid was statistically significant at the 5% level or greater in ten of the eleven specifications; in seven of eleven specifications, aid was significant at the 1% level or greater. Also, aid and natural resource exports have the same sign and roughly the same magnitude, suggesting that aid has an impact similar to a cash transfer. [26]

Table 6a: Cold War and Post-Cold War Observations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polity

Legislative Competition

Executive Competition

Veto Players

Political Concentration

Aid/Expenditure

-0.06*

-0.03***

-0.03**

-0.03**

-0.01***

0.05

<.01

0.04

0.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

Oil & Mineral Exports

-0.04**

-0.01*

-0.02***

-0.01**

-0.002*

0.04

0.07

<.01

0.02

0.05

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

0.27

0.01

0.04

-0.32

0.01

0.70

0.98

0.86

0.21

0.69

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.56***

0.06***

0.12***

0.10***

0.01***

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

-4.65***

-0.85*

-0.84

0.03

-0.06

<.01

0.09

0.16

0.96

0.54

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Europe/Central Asia

6.61***

0.68*

1.55***

1.18

0.32***

<.01

0.05

<.01

0.24

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

N

121

121

121

121

121

R-squared

0.54

0.33

0.40

0.23

0.32

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

That aid has no an impact on corruption is not surprising. The ICRG defines corruption as the need to pay bribes. Higher levels of aid suggest greater patronage resources. It is more logical to expect that an increase in the supply of aid should lead to an increase in patronage, not an increase in the demand for bribes.

Table 6b: Cold War and Post-Cold War Observations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Institutions Index

Rule of Law

Corruption

Bureaucratic Quality

Contract Enforcement

Property Rights

Aid/Expenditure

-0.11***

-0.02*

0.0004

-0.02**

-0.06***

-0.06***

<.01

0.05

0.95

0.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil & Mineral Exports

-0.06***

-0.01**

-0.01**

-0.01***

-0.02***

-0.02**

<.01

0.01

0.02

<.01

<.01

0.02

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

0.36

0.08

0.36

0.15

-0.07

-0.3

0.54

0.69

0.01

0.33

0.75

0.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.05

-0.003

0.03**

0.02

-0.01

0.01

0.45

0.86

0.03

0.14

0.62

0.66

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

1.51

0.17

0.06

0.77

0.57

0.28

0.37

0.73

0.89

0.04

0.43

0.71

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Europe/Central Asia

3.48**

1.19***

0.79**

-0.08

0.94**

1.69***

0.02

<.01

0.04

0.89

0.04

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

N

108

108

108

108

108

108

R-squared

0.15

0.08

0.30

0.26

0.06

0.01

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

Table seven displays the results of tests using Moores (1995) definition of unearned revenue. Moore defines foreign aid, taxes on international transactions, and non-tax revenue as sources of unearned revenue. Similar to the argument of this paper, Moore contends that accountability declines as unearned revenue rises. I sum the three measures and divide the sum by total government revenue (foreign aid plus domestic revenue) to generate a single measure of unearned revenue as a share of total revenue.

Table 7a: Unearned Revenue Cold War and Post-Cold War Observations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polity

Legislative Competition

Executive Competition

Veto Players

Political Concentration

Unearned Revenue/Total Revenue

-9.39**

-6.97***

-4.38***

-2.64**

-0.53**

0.02

<.01

<.01

0.04

0.03

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

-0.41

-0.24

-0.0005

0.06

-0.002

0.46

0.35

0.98

0.74

0.95

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.82***

0.12***

0.17***

0.14***

0.02***

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

-2.40

0.62

-0.18

0.87

0.01

0.13

0.25

0.68

0.13

0.91

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Europe/Central Asia

11.38***

1.00**

1.84***

0.86**

0.47***

<.01

0.03

<.01

0.04

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

N

130

123

123

123

130

R-squared

0.71

0.45

0.55

0.51

0.51

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

Table 7a: Unearned Revenue Cold War and Post-Cold War Observations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Institutions Index

Rule of Law

Corruption

Bureaucratic Quality

Contract Enforcement

Property Rights

Unearned Revenue/Total Revenue

-17.15**

-2.48

-0.51

-3.67***

-8.32***

-9.18***

0.01

0.23

0.76

<.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Per Capita GDP

-0.54

-0.07

0.16

-0.25

-0.18

-0.46

0.53

0.78

0.41

0.15

0.61

0.20

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Polity

0.23**

0.03

0.07***

0.09***

0.03

0.06

0.02

0.38

<.01

<.01

0.52

0.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELF

2.00

0.11

-0.15

0.45

1.28

1.37

0.47

0.90

0.86

0.42

0.22

0.21

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Europe/Central Asia

2.00***

2.99***

2.33***

2.49***

2.44***

2.74***

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

<.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

N

70

70

70

70

70

709

R-squared

0.34

0.15

0.29

0.42

0.27

0.21

The top number is the coefficient; the bottom number is the p-value of the t-statistic

* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

Moores hypothesis is sustained. Unearned revenue was significant at the 5% level in nine of eleven measures and significant at the 1% level in five of eleven models.

These results provide substantial evidence that aid has a similar impact on institutional and political structures as windfall profits do. Specifically, aid leads to more autocratic political systems and political systems that favor providing private goods (selective incentives) over public goods. The results are robust across measures of public goods (bureaucratic efficiency, risk of expropriation, rule of law, and risk of repudiation) and across a range of political indicators (overall level of democracy, competitiveness of executive and legislative elections, number of veto players, and concentration of political power). The data provide strong support against any theory that characterizes aid as somehow different than a cash transfer.

Conclusion

In this paper, I examine the impact of foreign aid on institutional development. I tested empirically fiscal theories of institutional evolution suggested by the historical and theoretical literature on taxes and state-building (e.g., Levi 1998, Moore 1995, and Tilly 1990), link the literature on the Resource Curse (e.g., Ross 1995 and Sachs and Warner 1997) to the provision of foreign aid, extend the literature on the impact of aid on institutional quality (e.g., Knack 2000 and Svensson 2000), and advanced the understanding of the evolution of institutions over the current economics literature that sees institutional evolution as deterministic (e.g., Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson 2001 Easterly and Levine 2002, Hall and Jones 1999, and Sokoloff and Engerman 2000). I find that aid encourages centralization of power and leads to governments favoring the provision of private goods over public goods. The data suggest that providing aid to central governments inhibits the development of the political structures (broad-based accountable government) and the institutional structures (transparent and uniform application of rules) that encourage productive economic activity.

The policy implications, nevertheless, may be misleading. A narrow reading of the results suggests that if aid leads to centralized power and provision of selective goods over public goods, one solution is to remove the aid. This reading would be incorrect for a number of reasons. First, most aid is provided directly to central governments (although this trend has been changing over the past decade; see Tvedt 1998 and van de Walle and Johnson 1996). [27] As a result, the data show not that aid inherently leads to centralization of power but that providing aid directly to central governments fosters centralization. Second, aid is not always used to enhance the power of the government at the expense of the rest of society. Botswana, Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand, for example, have used aid for productive economic purposes. The challenge is to understand under what conditions governments have incentives to use aid to for productive purposes versus redistributive purposes. One provisional hypothesis is that the incentives that aid generates are highly conditional on the context where aid is provided. The next steps are to examine more thoroughly the context of aid provision to determine if there are systematically different trends between the recipient of aid (e.g., governments versus NGOs) and the uses of aid (e.g., productive purposes versus redistributive purposes).

More broadly, the results suggest that any theory of the evolution of institutional and political structures must take into account the source of state revenue. The results provide substantial empirical support for the hypothesis that the sources of state revenue have a systematic and predictable impact on the evolution of institutional and political structures.

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Appendix: Data Sources and Definitions Polity (source: Polity IV database): Polity is a twenty-one point scale derived from the competitiveness of political participation (variable 2.6), the regulation of participation, the openness and competitiveness of executive recruitment, and constraints on the chief executive.

Legislative Competitiveness (source: DPI, variable LEIC): Seven point scale:

No legislature: 1

Unelected legislature: 2

Elected, 1 candidate: 3

One party, multiple candidates: 4

Multiple parties are legal but

only one party won seats: 5

Multiple parties win seats but the

largest party received more than

75% of the seats: 6

Largest party got less than 75%: 7

Executive Competitiveness (source: DPI, variable EIEC): Seven point scale; same criteria as Legislative competitiveness.

Veto Players (source: DPI, variable CHECKS3): CHECKS3 equals one if LIEC or EIEC is less than 5. In presidential systems if LIEC is greater than 6, CHECKS3 is incremented by one to account for competitively elected presidents; CHECKS 3 increased by one for each legislative house controlled by the opposition and if the first government party has a controlling position on economic issues. In parliamentary systems, if LIEC is greater than 6, CHECKS3 is incremented by one to establish equivalence with presidential checks counting; if the opposition controls the legislature; and for every party in the government coalition.Political Constraints (Source: Henisz, 2000): As the number of actors with independent veto power increases, the level of political constraints increases. Modifications are required when other political actors are neither completely aligned with nor completely independent from the executive. Fractionalization is equal to the probability that two random draws from the legislature or court are from different parties. For cases in which the executives party is in the minority in the legislature(s), the constraint measure equals the value derived under complete alignment plus (one minus the fractionalization index) multiplied by the difference between the completely independent and dependent values calculated above.

Corruption in Government (Source: ICRG): Lower scores indicate that high government officials are likely to demand special payments. And illegal payments are generally expected throughout lower levels of government in the form of bribes.

Quality of the Bureaucracy (Source: ICRG): High scores indicate an established mechanism for recruitment and training, autonomy from political pressure, strength and expertise to govern without drastic changes in policy or interruptions in government services, when governments change, and established mechanisms for recruiting and training.

Rule of law (Source: ICRG): This variable reflects the degree to which the citizens of a country are willing to accept the established institutions to make and implement laws and adjudicate disputes. Higher scores indicate sound political institutions, a strong court system, and provisions for an orderly succession of power. Lower scores indicate "a tradition of depending on physical force or illegal means to settle claims.

Risk of Expropriation (Source: ICRG): Higher values signify that government are more likely to seize assets without paying fair compensation.

Risk of Repudiation (Source: ICRG): Higher values signify weaker contract enforcement.

 


* Correspondence: bdhoffma@ucsd.edu. I thank Clark Gibson and Peter Timmer for helpful comments.

[1] Norberg presents a particularly powerful case against the efficacy of absolutism when she shows that there was substantial taxable wealth in France when Louis XVI convened the Estates General in 1788 but that Louis XVI had no capacity to extract taxes because of the privileges, tax exemptions, and tax avoidance. Ibid., p. 264-365; 290-298.

[2] External sources of revenue refers to revenue that is not generated from the domestic population.

[3] Tornell and Lane (1998), p 44.

[4] For the sake of brevity, I exclude a more general review of the impact of aid. Currently, the general consensus in the development literature is that the impact of aid is a function of the domestic institutional environment in the recipient country (see Burnside and Dollar 1999 and World Bank 1998). The literature on foreign aid has tended to parallel the literature on economic development over the past five decades. Generally speaking, there have been four phases in the literature on development and foreign aid since the end of World War II: Modernization Theory, Dependency Theory/Inward-Looking Development, Market-Led/Outward-Oriented Development (Conditionality/The Washington Consensus), and Domestic Political Theories. Early development theory, such as the Harrod-Domar two gap model and the modernization literature, suggested that lack of investment was the central cause of poverty. Modernization-type theories lost credibility as political systems collapsed in the 1970s. (See, for example, Lipset, Seymour (1959), Some Social Requisites of Democracy, American Political Science Review; Rostow, W.W. (1956), The Take-Off into Self-Sustained Growth, Economic Journal.) The false optimism of modernization-type theories about the prospects for development in low-income countries led to the development of Dependency Theory. Dependency Theory viewed inward-based, state-led development, or import substitution, as the only way for developing countries to achieve economic sovereignty. (See, for example, Cardoso, Henrique and Enzo Faletto (1979), Dependency and Development in Latin America; Dos Santos, Theotonio (1970), The Structure of Dependence, American Economic Review.) Conditionality and The Washington Consensus as sought to re-introduce market discipline (based on Neoclassical economic theory) after the debt crises caused by import substitution. (See, for example, Stiglitz, Joseph (1994), The Role of the State in Financial Markets, in Bruno and Pleskovic (eds.), Proceedings of the World Bank Conference on Development Economics; Williamson, John (1990), What Washington Means by Policy Reform, in Williamson (ed.), Latin American Adjustment.) The political difficulties of implementing structural adjustment programs has led to the current consensus, as explicated by Burnside and Dollar (2001) and World Bank (1998), that aid can only support, but not induce, policies that encourage productive economic activity.

[5] Kosacks (2003) and Svenssons (1999) models are problematic however. Svensson (1999) proxies for institutions by controlling for economic outcomes, but does not test institutional quality directly. Kosack (2003) does include institutions in his analysis but the results of the model are difficult to interpret: Aid and democracy alone have no impact on growth but when aid and democracy are interacted, both democracy and aid have statistically significant negative coefficients while the interaction term has a statistically significant positive coefficient.

[6] Bates, Robert (1994), The Impulse to Reform in Africa, in Widner (ed.), Economic Change and Political Liberalization in sub-Saharan Africa; Burnside, Craig and David Dollar, Aid, Policies, and Growth, Working Paper, World Bank; Rodrik, Dani (1996), Understanding Economic Policy Reform, Journal of Economic Literature 34 (1); Toye, J. (1992), Authoritarianism, Democracy and Adjustment, in Mosley (ed),Development Finance and Policy Reform; van de Walle, Nicholas (1994), Neopatrimonialism and Democracy in Africa, with an Illustration From Cameroon in Widner, (ed.); van de Walle, Nicholas (2001), African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis; World Bank (2001), Aid and Reform in Africa.

[7] For example, Burnside and Dollar find no correlation between a countrys policies and its allocation of aid, p. 3-4.

[8] Rodrik, p. 30.

[9] Knack (2000); Svensson (2000)

[10] Whether or not the people are more effective is irrelevant; the important assumption is that the government thinks the people may be more effective in providing security with a positive probability.

[11] The government, of course, could use coercion to capture the excess social welfare.

[12] The discussion examines the free rider problem from the perspective of the government. The implication here is that the socially optimal amount of public goods is likely to be greater than the level of public goods supplied by a government that is a discriminating monopolist. This is because society is likely to place a positive value on the surplus production of the public good whereas a government that is concerned about maximizing its utility will place a negative value on excess production of the public good. As a result, the optimal amount of public goods from the governments perspective is likely to be less than the optimal amount of public goods from societys perspective. Herbst (2000), for example notes that governments in fledgling African countries chose not to provide many public goods, specifically rural-urban links, to discourage political organization. Bueno de Mesquita (2000) and Bueno de Mesquita, et al. (2001) also show that governments that are more effective at providing broad-based public goods tend to remain in office for shorter periods of time than governments that provide an inferior set of public policies. Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce (2000), Political Instability as a Source of Growth Hoover Essays in Public Policy. Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, James D. Morrow, Randolph Siverson and Alastair Smith (2001), Political Competition and Economic Growth Journal of Democracy, 12 (1)

[13] One implication of the model is that governments will not attempt to collect taxes unless there is an external threat. Historically speaking, this fits well with the description of the rise of representative institutions in Europe during the Middle Ages (see, for example, Ertman 1997), although it should be clear that most monarchs did not choose to bargain.

[14] See Lake and Baum (2001) for a discussion of provision of public goods across regime types; see Carbonell-Nicolau and Klor (2002) for a discussion of democracy and taxation.

[15] I ignore the use of repression in my model but it would not change the predictions about the trade-off between providing selective versus public goods. I also assume that the governments possession of valuable resources is common knowledge.

[16] An insecure government will provide private goods up to the point where the resources are depleted. Although exhausting the supply of a valuable natural resource may seem a counter-intuitive result, there is theoretical support for and empirical evidence of governments depleting natural resources to maintain patronage systems. Theoretically, a patronage system will collapse when the leader can no longer provide sufficient patronage (see, for example, Herbst, Jeffrey (1990), The Structural Adjustment of Politics in Africa, World Development 18(7) or Gibson and Hoffman (2003)). As a result, the concept of conserving resources for the future loses significance because of the need to maintain the patronage network in the short-run. A current example of this behavior is Gabon, a country whose oil resources will be depleted within the next five to ten years but where the government shows no signs of reducing oil production. (Source: Energy Information Administration, National Energy Information Center.) Spain in the 16th and 17th century fits this pattern as well (see Karl, Terry (1997), The Paradox of Plenty, p. 32-40). The theory also assumes the assets are specific so that the government can confiscate the resource.

[17] See, for example, Ertman (1997) and Hoffman and Norgberg (1994).

[18] External here refers to external to the domestic population. The assumption in these hypotheses is that foreign aid and resource revenue are controlled by executive (e.g., non-legislative) offices. See van de Walle, Nicholas and Timothy Johnson (1998), Improving Aid to Africa and Wantchekon (1999) for the justification of the assumption that the executive controls the domestic disbursal of aid and resource flows.

[19] The executive-legislature hypothesis is derived directly from the public goods hypothesis because a weak legislature and selective application of rules (e.g., a court system that is under the direction of the executive) are more like private goods than public goods because weak legislatures and politically-directed courts provide benefits to a smaller number of people than politically independent courts and strong legislatures do. See Barutigam (2000), p. 29-31.

[20] Brautigam (2000), p. 23.

[21] See, for example, Lake, David and Matthew Baum (2001), The Invisible Hand of Democracy, Comparative Political Studies, 36 (4), for an example of using health care, education, and infrastructure as dependent variables for measures of public goods provision.

[22] Consider a situation where the government provides free education to all citizens yet only the family and friends of the president are allowed to have jobs. In this situation, there would be no incentive to receive an education because there are no returns to education; the only incentive that citizens have is to curry favor from the president. Although clearly this is an extreme example, it does show that provision of some public goods, such as education, may not be a useful indicator of incentives where patronage systems are deeply entrenched. For example, Easterly (2001) shows that education does not lead to higher levels of per capita GDP in countries with low-quality institutions (p. 73-84).

[23] See appendix for description of the data.

[24] Polity data ranges from -10 (most autocratic) to 10 (most democratic); public versus private goods data range from 4 to 24.

[25] Mean aid as a percent of expenditure fell from 29% pre-cold war to 21% post Cold War; median aid fell from 19% to 7%.

[26] The mean value of natural resource exports as a percent of exports is 26% and the median is 10%. The mean value of aid as a percent of expenditure is 22% and the median value is 11%.

[27] Tvedt, Terje (1998), Angels of Mercy or Development Diplomats; van de Walle and Johnson (1998).


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