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How aid targets votes: the impact of electoral incentives on foreign aid distribution

Jablonski, Ryan S. ORCID: 0000-0002-7344-6738 (2014) How aid targets votes: the impact of electoral incentives on foreign aid distribution. World Politics, 66 (2). pp. 293-330. ISSN 0043-8871

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0043887114000045


Despite allegations that foreign aid promotes corruption and patronage, we know little about how recipient governments’ electoral incentives influence aid spending. I propose a distributional politics model of aid spending in which governments use their informational advantages over donors in order to allocate a disproportionate share of aid to electorally strategic supporters, allowing governments to translate aid into votes. To evaluate this argument, I code data on the spatial distribution of multilateral donor projects in Kenya from 1992 to 2010 and show that Kenyan governments have consistently influenced the aid allocation process in favor of co-partisan and co-ethnic voters, a bias that holds across each of Kenya’s last three regimes. I also confirm that these biases appear to have altered election outcomes. This evidence suggests that electoral motivations play a significant role in aid allocation and that distributional politics may help explain the gap between donor intentions and outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 14:09
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:18

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