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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 20, 2012

Where Has All the Money Gone? Foreign Aid and the Composition of Government Spending

Santanu Chatterjee, Paola Giuliano and Ilker Kaya


This paper examines the link between foreign aid and the composition of government spending in aid-recipient countries. Two questions are addressed: (i) does foreign aid crowd out government spending in aid-recipient countries, and (ii) does the degree of fungibility vary across different categories of aid? Using a panel dataset of 67 countries for 1972-2000 we find that at the aggregate level about 70 percent of total aid is fungible. We also find that aid targeted for public investment crowds out about 80-90 percent of domestic government spending on public investment. Aid does not affect private investment, but has a strong positive impact on household consumption. The results are also robust to checks for causality. These findings are significant, since more than two-thirds of all aid flows to developing countries are tied to public investment projects.

Published Online: 2012-8-20

©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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