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Aid Effectiveness in Times of Political Change: Lessons from the Post-Communist Transition

by Anders Olofsgård, Maria Perrotta and Emmanuel Frot, SITE Working Paper

In this paper we argue that aid effectiveness may suffer when partnerships with new regimes need to be established. We test this argument using the natural experiment of the break-up of communism in the former Eastern Bloc. We find that commercial and strategic concerns influenced both aid flows and the urgency of entry into new partnerships in the first half of the 1990s, while developmental objectives became more important only over time. These results hold up to a thorough sensitivity analysis, including using a gravity model to instrument for bilateral trade flows. We also find that aid fractionalization increased substantially, and that aid to the region was more likely to be tied, more volatile and less predictable than to aid to other recipients at the time. Overall, these results suggest that the guidelines for aid effectiveness agreed upon in the Paris Declaration are likely to be challenged by the current political transition in parts of the Arab world. Hopefully being aware of these challenges can help donors avoid making the same mistakes.

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