Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Does US aid buy UN general assembly votes? A disaggregated analysis

Abstract

Using panel data for 143 countries over the period 1973–2002, this paper empirically analyzes the influence of US aid on voting patterns in the UN General Assembly. We use disaggregated aid data to account for the fact that various forms of aid may differ in their ability to induce political support by recipients. We obtain strong evidence that US aid buys voting compliance in the Assembly. More specifically, our results suggest that general budget support and grants are the major aid categories by which recipients have been induced to vote in line with the United States. When replicating the analysis for other G7 donors, no comparable patterns emerge.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Abrams, B. A., & Lewis, K. A. (1993). Human rights and the distribution of US foreign aid. Public Choice, 77(4), 815–821.

  2. Alesina, A., & Dollar, D. (2000). Who gives foreign aid to whom and why? Journal of Economic Growth, 5(1), 33–63.

  3. Alesina, A., & Weder, B. (2002). Do corrupt governments receive less foreign aid? American Economic Review, 92(4), 1126–1137.

  4. Arellano, M., & Bover, O. (1995). Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models. Journal of Econometrics, 68(1), 29–51.

  5. Barnebeck Andersen, T., Harr, T., & Tarp, F. (2006). On US politics and IMF lending. European Economic Review, 50, 1843–1862.

  6. Barro, R. J., & Lee, J.-W. (2005). IMF-programs: who is chosen and what are the effects? Journal of Monetary Economics, 52, 1245–1269.

  7. Bennis, P. (1997). The United Nations and Palestine: partition and its aftermath—UN stance on Palestine’s displacement by creation of Israel. Arab Studies Quarterly, 19(3), 47–77.

  8. Bernstein, S. J., & Alpert, E. J. (1971). Foreign aid and voting behavior in the United Nations: the admission of communist China. Orbis, 15(3), 963–977.

  9. Berthelemy, J.C., & Tichit, A. (2004). Bilateral donors aid-aid allocation decisions: a three-dimensional panel analysis. International Review of Economics and Finance, 13(3), 253–274.

  10. Blundell, R., & Bond, S. (1998). Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models. Journal of Econometrics, 87(1), 115–143.

  11. Boockmann, B. (2006). Participation and voting in committees: evidence from the ILO. Public Choice, 126, 405–427.

  12. Broz, J. L., & Hawes, M. B. (2006). US domestic politics and International Monetary Fund policy. In D. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and agency in international organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  13. Canavire, G., Nunnenkamp, P., Thiele, R., & Triveño, L. (2006). Assessing the allocation of aid: developmental concerns and the self-interest of donors. Indian Economic Journal, 54(1), 26–51.

  14. Dahlberg, M., & Johansson, E. (2002). On the vote purchasing behavior of incumbent governments. American Political Science Review, 96, 27–40.

  15. Dollar, D., & Levin, V. (2006). The increasing selectivity of foreign aid, 1984–2003. World Development, 34(12), 2034–2046.

  16. Doucouliagos, H., & Paldam, M. (2005). The aid effectiveness literature: the sad results of 40 years of research. Working Paper 2005.15. Department of Economics, University of Aarhus.

  17. Doucouliagos, H., & Paldam, M. (2007). A meta-analysis of development aid allocation: the effects of income level and population size (Working paper 2007-15). University of Aarhus, School of Economics and Management, Aarhus.

  18. Doyle, M. (1986). Liberalism and world politics. American Political Science Review, 80, 1151–1169.

  19. Dreher, A., & Sturm, J.-E. (2006). Do IMF and World Bank influence voting in the UN General Assembly? (KOF working paper 137). ETH Zurich.

  20. Eldar, O. (2007). Vote trading in international institutions. New York University School of Law.

  21. Escaleras, M., Anbarci, N., & Register, C. A. (2007). Public sector corruption and major earthquakes: a potentially deadly interaction. Public Choice, 132(12), 209–230.

  22. Feyzioğlu, T., Swaroop, V., & Zhu, M. (1998). A panel data analysis of the fungibility of foreign aid. World Bank Economic Review, 12(1), 29–58.

  23. Fleck, R. K., & Kilby, C. (2002). Reassessing the role of constituency in congressional voting. Public Choice, 112, 31–53.

  24. Fleck, R. K., & Kilby, C. (2006a). How do political changes influence U.S. bilateral aid allocations? Evidence from panel data. Review of Development Economics, 10(2), 210–223.

  25. Fleck, R. K., & Kilby, C. (2006b). World Bank independence: a model and statistical analysis of U.S. influence. Review of Development Economics, 10(2), 224–240.

  26. Freedom House. (2004). Freedom in the world. Annual Report. http://www.freedomhouse.org.

  27. Gates, S., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Global aid allocation: are Nordic countries different? (Working paper 2004-34). Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford.

  28. Harrigan, J., Wang, C., & El-Said, H. (2006). The economic and political determinants of IMF and World Bank lending in the Middle East and North Africa. World Development, 34(2), 247–270.

  29. Harms, M., & Lutz, M. (2005). The macroeconomic effects of foreign aid. In H. Ahrens (Ed.), Development cooperation—evaluation and new approaches. Berlin.

  30. Hawes, M. B. (2004). Inflationary influence—the diminishing effect of U.S. aid on U.N. voting. University of California, San Diego.

  31. Hix, S., Noury, A. G., & Roland, G. (2006). Democratic politics in the European Union. Mimeo.

  32. Holcombe, R. G., & Sobel, R. S. (1996). The stability of international coalitions in United Nations voting from 1946 to 1973. Public Choice, 86, 17–34.

  33. International Country Risk Guide. (2006). PRS group. http://www.marketresearch.com/.

  34. Jensen, S. P., & Paldam, M. (2006). Can the new aid-growth models be replicated? Public Choice, 127, 147–175.

  35. Kato, M. (1969). A model of US foreign aid allocation: an application of a rational decision-making scheme. In Mueller, J. E. (Ed.), Approaches to measurement in international relations. Appleton Century Croft, New York.

  36. Kegley, C. W. Jr., & Hook, S. W. (1991). U.S. foreign aid and U.N. voting: did Reagan’s linkage strategy buy defense or defiance?. International Studies Quarterly, 35(3), 295–312.

  37. Kegley, C. W. Jr., & McGowan, P. J. (1981). The political economy of foreign policy. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

  38. Keohane, R. O. (1967). The study of political influence in the General Assembly. International Organization, 21(2), 221–237.

  39. Kilby, C. (2006). Donor influence in MDBs: the case of the Asian Development Bank. The Review of International Organizations, 2(1), 173–195.

  40. Kuziemko, I., & Werker, E. (2006). How much is a seat on the security council worth? Foreign aid and bribery at the United Nations. Journal of Political Economy, 114, 905–930.

  41. Langhammer, R. J. (2004). Halving poverty by doubling aid: is there reason for optimism? The World Economy, 27(1), 81–98.

  42. Levitt, S. D. (1996). How do Senators vote? Disentangling the role of voter preferences, party affiliation, and Senator ideology. American Economic Review, 86, 425–441.

  43. Levitt, S. D., & Snyder, J. M. (1997). The impact of federal spending on house election outcomes. Journal of Political Economy, 105, 30–53.

  44. Lundborg, P. (1998). Foreign aid and international support as a gift exchange. Economics & Politics, 10(2), 127–142.

  45. McGillivray, M. (2003). Aid effectiveness and selectivity: integrating multiple objectives into aid allocations. DAC Journal, 4(3), 27–40.

  46. McGillivray, M., & White, H. (1993). Explanatory studies of aid allocation among developing countries: a critical survey (Working paper 148). Institute of Social Studies, The Hague.

  47. Morey, D., & Lai, B. (2003). Liberalism, realism, and United Nations voting: an empirical test of contending theories. Department of Political Science, University of Iowa.

  48. Neumayer, E. (2003). Rutledge studies in development economics: Vol. 34.The pattern of giving aid: the impact of good governance on development assistance. London and New York.

  49. OECD. (2005). Statistical compendium (CD-Rom). Paris.

  50. Oneal, J., & Russett, B. (1999). Assessing the liberal peace with alternative specifications: trade still reduces conflict. Journal of Peace Research, 36(4), 423–443.

  51. Palmer, G., Wohlander, S., & Morgan, T. C. (2002). Give or take: foreign aid and foreign policy substitutability. Journal of Peace Research, 39, 5–26.

  52. Papke, L. E., & Wooldridge, J. M. (1996). Econometric methods for fractional response variables with an application to 401(k) plan participation rates. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 11(4), 619–632.

  53. Rai, K. B. (1980). Foreign aid and voting in the UN General Assembly, 1967–1976. Journal of Peace Research, 17(3), 269–277.

  54. Rajan, R., & Subramanian, A. (2005). Aid and growth: what does the evidence really show (IMF working paper WP/05/127). International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

  55. Roodman, D. (2004). An index of donor performance. (Working paper 42). Center for Global Development, Washington, DC.

  56. Roodman, D. (2006). How to do xtabond2: an introduction to “difference” and “system” GMM in Stata (Working paper 103). Center for Global Development.

  57. Roodman, D. (2007). xtabond2: stata module to extend xtabond dynamic panel data estimator. Center for Global Development, Washington, DC. Retrieved January 9, 2008, from http://econpapers.repec.org/software/bocbocode/s435901.htm.

  58. Rothenberg, L. S., & Sanders, M. S. (2000). Legislator turnout and the calculus of voting: The determinants of abstentions in the U.S. Congress. Public Choice, 103, 259–270.

  59. Russett, B. M. (1967). International regions and the international system. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company.

  60. Ruttan, V. W. (1996). United States development assistance policy: the domestic politics of foreign economic aid. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

  61. Schraeder, P., Hook, S., & Taylor, B. (1998). Clarifying the foreign aid puzzle: a comparison of American, Japanese, French, and Swedish aid flows. World Politics, 50, 294–323.

  62. Singer, J. D., Bremer, S., & Stuckey, J. (1972). Capability distribution uncertainty and major power war 1820–1965. In B. Russett (Ed.), Peace, war, and numbers (pp. 19–48). Beverly Hills: Sage.

  63. Snyder, J. M. Jr., & Groseclose, T. (2000). Estimating party influence in Congressional roll-call voting. American Journal of Political Science, 44, 187–205.

  64. Staiger, D., & Stock, J. H. (1997). Instrumental variables regression with weak instruments. Econometrica, 65(3), 557–586.

  65. Stokke, O. (Ed.) (1989). Western middle powers and global poverty: the determinants of the aid policies of Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Uppsala.

  66. Sobel, R. S., & Leeson, P. T. (2006). Government’s response to Hurricane Katrina: a public choice analysis. Public Choice, 127(1–2), 55–73.

  67. Stone, R. W. (2004). The political economy of IMF lending in Africa. American Political Science Review, 98(4), 577–592.

  68. Thacker, S. C. (1999). The high politics of IMF lending. World Politics, 52, 38–75.

  69. Thiele, R., Nunnenkamp, P., & Dreher, A. (2007). Do donors target aid in line with the millennium development goals? A sector perspective of aid allocation. Review of World Economics, 143(4), 596–630.

  70. Voeten, E. (2000). Clashes in the assembly. International Organization, 54(2), 185–215.

  71. Voeten, E. (2004). Documenting votes in the UN General Assembly. The George Washington University. http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/ev42/UNVoting.htm.

  72. Wang, T. Y. (1999). US foreign aid and UN voting: an analysis of important issues. International Studies Quarterly, 43(1), 199–210.

  73. Windmeijer, F. (2005). A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators. Journal of Econometrics, 126(1), 25–51.

  74. Wittkopf, E. (1973). Foreign aid and United Nations votes: a comparative study. The American Political Science Review, 67(3), 868–888.

  75. World Bank. (2006). World development indicators (CD-Rom). Washington DC.

  76. Zimmermann, R. (1993). Dollars, diplomacy and dependency—dilemmas of U.S. economic aid. Colorado: Lynne Reiner.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Rainer Thiele.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dreher, A., Nunnenkamp, P. & Thiele, R. Does US aid buy UN general assembly votes? A disaggregated analysis. Public Choice 136, 139–164 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-008-9286-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Bilateral Aid
  • UN General Assembly
  • Voting

JEL

  • F33