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Do Elites Benefit from Democracy and Foreign Aid in Developing Countries?

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A popular argument for the absence of any beneficial effects of foreign aid is that it is skimmed by political elites in recipient countries. However, studies also suggest that aid may be more effective in relatively democratic developing countries. By exploring data on income quintiles derived from the World Income Inequality Database for 88 developing countries, a set of results indicate that foreign aid and democracy in conjunction are associated with a higher share of income held by the upper quintile. It thus appears that foreign aid, contrary to popular beliefs, leads to a more skewed income distribution in democratic developing countries while the effects are negligible in autocratic countries. The paper closes with a discussion of potential mechanisms generating this perverse effect.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Pages (from-to)115-124
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Inequality, Foreign aid, Democracy

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