The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 267–284 | Cite as

Selectivity on aid modality: Determinants of budget support from multilateral donors

  • Paul Clist
  • Alessia Isopi
  • Oliver Morrissey


Since the late 1990s a selection on policy approach to aid was advocated such that more aid should be allocated to countries with good policies, but there is little evidence that this has occurred. This paper argues that donors may exercise selectivity over the aid modality. Specifically, multilateral donors will cede more recipient control over aid by granting more budget support to those recipients with better expenditure systems and spending preferences (towards the poor) aligned with the donor. We test this for European Commission and World Bank budget support over 1997–2009 and find some support. Both donors have given budget support to almost half of the countries they give aid, and it is usually a significant share of their aid. The principal determinants of receiving budget support are having a poverty reduction strategy in place, which can be considered a good indicator of aligned preferences, and indicators of government efficiency. These variables did not, however, influence the amount of budget support given. Multilateral donors have been more likely to give budget support to countries with aligned spending preferences and better quality systems, even if they have not reallocated the total aid envelope in that way.


Aid Modality Budget Support Project Aid Aid Selectivity 

JEL Classification

F35 O19 



This is a revised version of a paper presented at the 4 th Annual Conference on the Political Economy of International Organizations, Zurich, 27–29 January 2011. The authors are grateful to Christopher Kilby, Steven Knack, Axel Dreher, conference participants and two anonymous referees for constructive comments. We retain responsibility for the views expressed and any errors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics, Sir Clive Granger BuildingUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Department of Economics, School of Social SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  3. 3.School of International DevelopmentUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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