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LU, JIKUO (2018) THREE ESSAYS ON FOREIGN AID AND ETHNIC LEADERSHIP IN AFRICA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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One major reason for the ineffectiveness of foreign aid in promoting development is recipient leaders and governments’ deviation from donors’ aid plans. In this research, I provide a theoretical explanation of leaders’ deviation from aid agreements in Africa. I argue that only by staying in power can leaders pursue other political goals. African societies share the characteristic that the national leaders stay in power by providing private goods to a small group of key supporters. These key supporters are commonly found in Africa to be those who share the leaders’ ethnicity. A leader with imminent threat to political survival would allocate all resources available to key supporters to consolidate political support, which would be reflected by higher level of ethnic favoritism in aid allocation in African countries. On the contrary, a leader with low risk of losing power could be motivated to invest in the long-term economic development of the country. With three empirical essays, I provide evidences consistent with this explanation. Essay One shows that subnational aid allocation commonly favor regions where a majority of the population share the leaders’ ethnicity. I find in Essay Two that such ethnic favoritism in aid allocation is more significant when a leader has higher risk of losing political power. As leaders increase allocation of aid to co-ethnic population for political survival, people from disadvantaged ethnic groups experience higher level of infant mortalities. Essay Three shows that high level of aid volatility threatens recipient leaders’ political survival and makes aid allocation more inefficient. My essays support my theoretical explanation that leaders are rationally motivated to influence subnational aid allocations. While under certain domestic constraints they may strategically choose to deviate from aid plans, in other scenarios they may actually share donors’ goals for long-term development. In conclusion, I call for donors to stabilize aid flow to increase aid effectiveness. I also suggest extra care to be taken by donors when determining whether some deviations from aid plans should be penalized.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
LU, JIKUOjil123@pitt.edujil1230000-0001-9137-2237
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThemudo,
Committee MemberCondra,
Committee MemberWilf,
Committee MemberGamso,
Date: 1 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 March 2018
Approval Date: 1 June 2018
Submission Date: 8 March 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 157
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aid Volatility, Aid Allocation, Aid Effectiveness, Foreign Aid, Ethnic Favoritism, African Development, Political Economy of Aid
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 19:38
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2018 19:38


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