Waylaid Dialectic

June 19, 2010

Missing Links (Does aid work edition)

Filed under: Aid,Random Musings — terence @ 9:15 am

Does aid work? and would economists actually know if it did? If you’re just starting to ponder these questions, or have at some point in time been harangued by someone who’s read Dambasa Moyo, the kind folks at the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University have a superb primer on the Great Aid Debate.

And if that whets your appetite, have a look at what will almost certainly be the two most sensible articles on aid that you read this year (unless of course you read them last year): Owen Barder on being realistic about what aid might achieve (BTW: Owen sorry to see your blog’s vanished, I hope all’s ok with you); and Mick Moore and Sue Unsworth who argue that aid could be more effective if government aid agencies would only pay more attention to the institutional and political context of recipient countries.

Meanwhile, if a word existed for the unfortunate task of having to time and time again state the obvious because people just don’t seem to get it, I’d be using that word in my link to Tales From the Hood where J. makes the eminently  sensible point – that you really do need to spend money if you want to succeed in giving it away – and bizarrely gets equated, in comments, with the Khmer Rouge for doing so.

And finally, careful analysis of the numbers (gated) on an aid supported programme to tackle Malaria in Zambia reveals: (a) considerable successes (success?! huh? but everyone knows teh aid doesn’t work); and (b) some surprising results (bed nets better than spraying etc.) And in doing so provides a rather nice example of why people who dismiss aid out of hand are clearly, stupidly wrong and also why’s it’s actually worth spending money on careful research and evaluation (overheads!) because, although aid can work, there is still a lot to be learnt.

(Un-gated version of the NBER paper here H/T Chris Blattman)

[Update: Also, this article by Roger Riddell is a good read on some of the systematic problems of ODA giving.]

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