Public Choice

, Volume 134, Issue 3–4, pp 463–488 | Cite as

Does foreign aid distort incentives and hurt growth? Theory and evidence from 75 aid-recipient countries

  • George Economides
  • Sarantis Kalyvitis
  • Apostolis Philippopoulos


Foreign aid transfers can distort individual incentives, and hence hurt growth, by encouraging rent seeking as opposed to productive activities. We construct a model of a growing small open economy that distinguishes two effects from foreign transfers: (i) a direct positive effect, as higher transfers allow the financing of infrastructure; (ii) an indirect negative effect, as higher transfers induce rent-seeking competition by self-interested individuals. In this framework, the growth impact of aid is examined jointly with the determination of rent-seeking behavior. We test the main predictions of the model for a cross-section of 75 aid-recipient countries. There is evidence that aid has a direct positive effect on growth, which is however significantly mitigated by the adverse indirect effects of associated rent-seeking activities. This is especially the case in recipient countries with relatively large public sectors.


Foreign aid Incentives Growth 


F35 D7 D9 H2 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Economides
    • 1
  • Sarantis Kalyvitis
    • 1
  • Apostolis Philippopoulos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Athens University of Economics and BusinessAthensGreece
  2. 2.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.CESifoMunichGermany

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