Motivations for Aid to Developing Countries

Maizels, A. & Nissanke, M.K. World Development

This paper attempts to identify the underlying principles of aid allocation, and particularly the balance of motivations as between the needs of recipient countries and the interests of donor countries. Two alternative models are fitted by cross-country regressions to bilateral and multilateral aid flows to some 80 developing countries in 1969–1970 and 1978–1980. The first (recipient need) model assumes that all aid is given to compensate for shortfalls in domestic resources. This model provides a reasonable explanation for the distribution of multilateral aid, but it is clearly not applicable for bilateral aid flows. The second (donor interest) model assumes that all aid serves only donor interests, defined to cover political/security investment and trade interests. This model gives generally good explanations of bilateral aid, but is a poor fit for multilateral aid. The relative importance of the various donor interests differs sharply among donors. The paper ends with an analysis of the shift in the balance of aid over the 1970s towards the recipient need element, and with a reference to the sharp change in policy in the 1980s towards increasing emphasis on donor interest aid.