Skip to main content

Locating foreign aid commitments in response to political violence

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 November 2016

Abstract

Following a recent trend towards disaggregation in studies of foreign aid and political violence, we evaluate the determinants of foreign aid sub-nationally. We focus our attention upon political violence as a key subnational determinant of aid commitments and argue that donors commit aid to areas with recent political violence in the hope of ameliorating need and bolstering stability. This being the case, however, we contend not all areas experiencing violence are equally likely to receive aid commitments. This is because potential donors are faced with a dilemma—balancing risk and reward—that leads them to question whether they can effectively deliver aid to areas under conditions of extreme violence. We test these two hypotheses and provide confirmation for them in the context of bilateral aid commitments to local areas within Sub-Saharan African states experiencing civil war between 1990 and 2007.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Notes

  1. 1.

    Our focus in this paper is on bilateral aid flows. With respect to aid from multilateral institutions, Öhler and Nunnenkamp (2014) demonstrate that subnational and regional needs do not factor centrally in decision-making. Rather, recipient governments appear to channel aid towards sectors of society they themselves favor. Their finding aligns with Jablonski’s (2014) evidence of Kenyan officials distributing aid from foreign donors to electorally important communities.

  2. 2.

    At the equator this amounts to an approximately 55 km by 55 km square.

  3. 3.

    PRIO-GRID has been utilized in recent years to study political violence and mobile phone service coverage in local areas (Pierskalla and Hollenbach 2013), ethnic constituencies and violence against civilians (Fjelde and Hultman 2013), and drought, rainfall and civil conflict violence (von Uexkull 2014).

  4. 4.

    This dataset also contains information on the aid allocations from a number of multilateral agencies and non-governmental agencies, but we opt to focus on bilateral commitments since the theoretical link between political violence and aid presumes that committing aid to an area is motivated, in some capacity, by the donor’s own state security interests. Multilateral agencies and non-governmental organizations are not likely to have the same type of security interests.

  5. 5.

    The OECD recognizes three definitional concepts of aid: pledges, commitments and disbursements. For this project, it is necessary to draw a distinction between commitments and disbursements. Commitments are “a firm obligation, expressed in writing and backed by the necessary funds, undertaken by an official donor to provide specified assistance to a recipient country or a multilateral organisation,” and bilateral commitments are “recorded in the full amount of expected transfer, irrespective of the time required for the completion of disbursements.” Disbursements, on the other hand, are the “release of funds to or the purchase of goods or services for a recipient; by extension, the amount thus spent,” and record “the actual international transfer of financial resources, or of goods or services valued at the cost to the donor.” Admittedly, georeferenced data on disbursements might be preferable to commitments but remains elusive at this time. We confidently utilize these data on georeferenced commitments, however, as a strong proxy measure for disbursements, as recent work has shown that nearly all commitments are met after two years (Hudson 2013, p. 113), including to Sub-Saharan African states (ibid., p. 115).

  6. 6.

    Findley et al. (2011) label this as precision code four; precision codes one (the most precise), two, and three also are included. We have added a table to Sect. 3 of the appendix that provides a summary of the precision of coding. That table shows that 41 % of observations are coded at locations that are within or nearby a specifically named populated place.

  7. 7.

    Reviewers noted that an alternative specification would involve coding commitments according to their dollar value. We prefer to use the number of new commitments for our dependent variable, because this better captures the expected outcome of our logic, namely that donors adjust the number of new commitments they make to specific locations. Nonetheless, we have specified models with dollar values as the dependent variable. Those are discussed in the appendix.

  8. 8.

    Terrorist Violence Severity is taken from the Life and Property Losses data field corresponding to “Total number of individuals killed;” Conflict Violence Severity is taken from the data field corresponding to the “Best estimate” of casualties.

  9. 9.

    This variable is modified such that cells with no neighbors in conflict are recoded as zero rather than missing.

  10. 10.

    These data are available only for the years 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. In order to capture values for the intermittent years the missing data are generated by an averaging process. For example, if the gross cell product per capita of a cell in 1990 is 100 and grows to 200 in 1995, the values for the intervening years are as follows: 1991 = 120; 1992 = 140; 1993 = 160; 1994 = 180.

  11. 11.

    Nordhaus (2006) also includes ratings for the quality of data used in this measure’s construction and only instances wherein no major inconsistencies in one of the original GCP data sources are considered.

  12. 12.

    In order to utilize the HFP in this way, it was modified in several ways. First, because its own cells are smaller than PRIO-GRID’s, they were aggregated to match and subsequently coded with the mean. Second, HFP provides a single score for each cell over the 1995–2004 period. To maintain as many observations as possible, we extended this score earlier to 1990 and later to 2007.

  13. 13.

    In a small number of instances, e.g., the cells comprising the island nation of Comoros, a cell may not possess the full complement of eight state-based neighboring PRIO-GRID cells.

  14. 14.

    The 71 and 35 % increases were both, respectively, calculated in Stata with the listcoef command (Long and Freese 2014).

  15. 15.

    Having aggregated up to the administrative level, the data for our dependent variable no longer have a disproportionate number of zero values. Accordingly, we estimate only regular negative binomial regressions for these robustness checks.

References

  1. Addison, T., & McGillivray, M. (2004). Aid to conflict-affected countries: Lessons for donors. Conflict, Security & Development, 4(3), 347–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ai, C., & Norton, E. C. (2003). Interaction terms in logit and probit models. Economics Letters, 80(1), 123–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Allison, P. D., & Waterman, R. P. (2002). Fixed–effects negative binomial regression models. Sociological Methodology, 32(1), 247–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Azam, J.-P., & Delacroix, A. (2006). Aid and the delegated fight against terrorism. Review of Development Economics, 10(2), 330–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Azam, J.-P., & Thelen, V. (2008). The roles of foreign aid and education in the war on terror. Public Choice, 135(3/4), 375–397.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Azam, J.-P., & Thelen, V. (2010). Foreign aid versus military intervention in the war on terror. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 54(2), 237–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Balla, E., & Reinhardt, G. Y. (2008). Giving and receiving foreign aid: Does conflict count? World Development, 36(12), 2566–2585.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bandyopadhyay, S., Sandler, T., & Younas, J. (2011). Foreign aid as counterterrorism policy. Oxford Economic Papers, 63(3), 423–477.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bandyopadhyay, S., Sandler, T., & Younas, J. (2014). Foreign direct investment, aid, and terrorism. Oxford Economic Papers, 66(1), 25–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bauer, P. T. (1984). Reality and rhetoric. Cambridge: Harvard University.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Beall, J., Goodfellow, T., & Putzel, J. (2006). Introductory article: on the discourse of terrorism, security and development. Journal of International Development, 18(1), 51–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Bohnke, J. R., & Zurcher, C. (2013). Aid, minds and hearts: the impact of aid in conflict zones. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 30(5), 411–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Bueno de Mesquita, B., & Smith, A. (2009). A political economy of aid. International Organization, 63(2), 309–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Buhaug, H. (2010). Dude, where’s my conflict?: LSG, relative strength, and the location of civil war. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 27(2), 107–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Buhaug, H., & Gates, S. (2002). The geography of civil war. Journal of Peace Research, 39(4), 417–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Buhaug, H., Gleditsch, K. S., Holtermann, H., Ostby, G., & Tollefsen, A. F. (2011). It’s the local economy, stupid! Geographic wealth dispersion and conflict outbreak location. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 55(5), 814–840.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Buhaug, H., & Rod, J. K. (2006). Local determinants of African civil wars, 1970–2001. Political Geography, 25(3), 315–335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Cameron, A. C., & Trivedi, P. K. (1998). Regression analysis of count data. New York: Cambridge University.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  21. Cingranelli, D. L., & Pasquarello, T. E. (1985). Human rights practices and the distribution of US foreign aid to Latin American countries. American Journal of Political Science, 29(3), 539–563.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Coggins, B. L. (2015). Does state failure cause terrorism? An empirical analysis (1999–2008). Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59(3), 455–483.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Aid, policy and growth in post-conflict societies. European Economic Review, 48(5), 1125–1145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Croicu, M., & Sundberg, R. (2012). UCDP GED conflict polygons dataset codebook version 1.1-2011. Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.

  25. De Ree, J., & Nillesen, E. (2009). Aiding violence or peace? The impact of foreign aid on the risk of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Development Economics, 88(2), 301–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Dietrich, S. (2013). Bypass or engage? Explaining donor delivery tactics in foreign aid allocation. International Studies Quarterly, 57(4), 698–712.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Dietrich, S. (2016). Donor political economies and the pursuit of aid effectiveness. International Organization, 70(1), 65–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Dittrich Hallberg, J. (2012). PRIO conflict site 1989–2008: a geo-referenced dataset on armed conflict. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 29(2), 219–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Dreher, A., & Fuchs, A. (2011). Does terror increase aid? Public Choice, 149(3–4), 337–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Dreher, A., Nunnenkamp, P., & Thiele, R. (2011). Are “new” donors different? Comparing the allocation of bilateral aid between non-DAC and DAC donor countries. World Development, 39(11), 1950–1968.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Fearon, J. D., Humphreys, M., & Weinstein, J. M. (2009). Can development aid contribute to social cohesion after civil war? Evidence from a field experiment in post-conflict Liberia. The American Economic Review, 99(2), 287–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Findley, M. G., Braithwaite, A., Young, J. K., Marineau, J. F., & Pascoe, H. (2015). The local geography of transnational terrorism. Working paper, Austin: University of Texas at Austin.

  33. Findley, M. G., Powell, J., Strandow, D., & Tanner, J. (2011). The localized geography of foreign aid: a new dataset and application to violent armed conflict. World Development, 39(11), 1995–2009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Findley, M. G., & Young, J. K. (2011). Terrorism, democracy, and credible commitments. International Studies Quarterly, 55(2), 357–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Findley, M. G., & Young, J. K. (2012). Terrorism and civil war: a spatial and temporal approach to a conceptual problem. Perspectives on Politics, 10(02), 285–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Fjelde, H., & Hultman, L. (2013). Weakening the enemy a disaggregated study of violence against civilians in Africa. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(7), 1230–1257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Friedman, M. (1958). Foreign economic aid: means and objectives. Palo Alto: Hoover Press.

    Google Scholar 

  38. George, J. (2016). State failure and transnational terrorism: An empirical analysis. Journal of Conflict Resolution. doi:10.1177/0022002716660587. (forthcoming).

    Google Scholar 

  39. Gleditsch, N. P., Wallensteen, P., Eriksson, M., Sollenberg, M., & Strand, H. (2002). Armed conflict 1946–2001: a new dataset. Journal of Peace Research, 39(5), 615–637.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Gomez, S. (2007). Human rights and the allocation of foreign aid: a cross-national analysis of the last years of the Cold War, 1980–1989. The Social Science Journal, 44(2), 275–285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Greene, W. H. (2003). Econometric analysis. India: Pearson Education.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Gutting, R., & Steinwand, M. C. (2015). Donor fragmentation, aid shocks, and violent political conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, doi: 0022002715595701, forthcoming.

  43. Hegre, H., Østby, G., & Raleigh, C. (2009). Poverty and civil war events a disaggregated study of Liberia. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53(4), 598–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Hillier, D. (2007). Africa’s missing billions: International arms flows and the cost of conflict (International Action Network on Small Arms, Oxfam, & Saferworld briefing paper, no. 107). https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/africas%20missing%20bils.pdf. Accessed 19 Aug 2016.

  45. Hudson, J. (2013). Promises kept, promises broken? The relationship between aid commitments and disbursements. Review of Development Finance, 3(3), 109–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Jablonski, R. S. (2014). How aid targets votes: the impact of electoral incentives on foreign aid distribution. World Politics, 66(02), 293–330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Kang, S., & Meernik, J. (2004). Determinants of post-conflict economic assistance. Journal of Peace Research, 41(2), 149–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Long, J. S. (1997). Regression models for categorical and limited dependent variables (Advanced Quantitative Techniques in the Social Sciences). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Long, S. J., & Freese, J. (2014). Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables Using Stata (3rd ed.). College Station: Stata Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Maren, M. (1997). The Road to Hell: the Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity. New York: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. McKinlay, R. D., & Little, R. (1977). A foreign policy model of US bilateral aid allocation. World Politics, 30(01), 58–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. McLean, E. V. (2014). Multilateral aid and domestic economic interests. International Organization, 69(01), 97–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Meernik, J., Krueger, E. L., & Poe, S. C. (1998). Testing models of US foreign policy: foreign aid during and after the Cold War. The Journal of Politics, 60(01), 63–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Mickolus, E. F., Sandler, T., Murdock, J. M., & Flemming, P. A. (2008). International terrorism: Attributes of terrorist events (ITERATE), 1968–2007. Dunn Loring: Vinyard Software.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Mosley, P. (1987). Foreign aid, its defense and reform. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Narang, N., & Stanton, J. (2016). A strategic logic of attacking aid workers: evidence from violence in Afghanistan, 2008–2012. International Studies Quarterly, Forthcoming.

  57. Neumayer, E. (2003). The determinants of aid allocation by regional multilateral development banks and United Nations agencies. International Studies Quarterly, 47(1), 101–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Nielsen, R. A., Findley, M. G., Davis, Z. S., Candland, T., & Nielson, D. L. (2011). Foreign aid shocks as a cause of violent armed conflict. American Journal of Political Science, 55(2), 219–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Nordhaus, W. D. (2006). Geography and macroeconomics: New data and new findings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(10), 3510–3517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Nunn, N., & Qian, N. (2014). US food aid and civil conflict. The American Economic Review, 104(6), 1630–1666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Öhler, H., & Nunnenkamp, P. (2014). Needs-based targeting or favoritism? The regional allocation of multilateral aid within recipient countries. Kyklos, 67(3), 420–446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Perrin, P. (1998). The impact of humanitarian aid on conflict development. International Review of the Red Cross, 38(323), 319–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Piazza, J. (2008). Incubators of terror: do failed and failing states promote transnational terrorism? International Studies Quarterly, 52(3), 469–488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Pierskalla, J. H., & Hollenbach, F. M. (2013). Technology and collective action: the effect of cell phone coverage on political violence in Africa. American Political Science Review, 107(2), 207–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Poe, S. C., & Tate, C. N. (1994). Repression of human rights to personal integrity in the 1980s: a global analysis. American Political Science Review, 88(04), 853–872.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Polachek, S. W., Robst, J., & Chang, Y. C. (1999). Liberalism and interdependence: extending the trade-conflict model. Journal of Peace Research, 36(4), 405–422.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Raleigh, C., Cunningham, D., Wilhelmsen, L., & Gleditsch, N. P. (2006). Conflict Sites 1946–2005. UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflicts Dataset Codebook. PRIO: Centre for the study of civil war. Version, 2.

  68. Sanderson, E. W., Jaiteh, M., Levy, M. A., Redford, K. H., Wannebo, A. V., & Woolmer, G. (2002). The human footprint and the last of the wild. BioScience, 52(10), 891–904.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Santifort-Jordan, C., & Sandler, T. (2014). An empirical study of suicide terrorism: a global analysis. Southern Economic Journal, 80(4), 981–1001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Strandow, D., Findley, M. G., & Young, J. M. (2014). Foreign aid and the intensity of violent armed conflict. Working paper, Austin: University of Texas at Austin.

  71. Strange, A. M., Dreher, A., Fuchs, A., Parks, B., & Tierney, M. J. (2015). Tracking underreported financial flows: China’s development finance and the aid–conflict nexus revisited, Journal of Conflict Resolution, doi:0022002715604363, forthcoming.

  72. Sundberg, R., Lindgren, M., & Padskocimaite, A. (2010). UCDP GED codebook version 1.0-2011. Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.

  73. Sundberg, R., & Melander, E. (2013). Introducing the UCDP georeferenced event dataset. Journal of Peace Research, 50(4), 523–532.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. The Fund for Peace. (2006). The Failed States Index 2006. http://fsi.fundforpeace.org. Accessed 19 Sep 2016.

  75. Themner, L., & Wallensteen, P. (2014). Armed conflicts, 1946–2013. Journal of Peace Research, 51(4), 541–554.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Tierney, M. J., Nielson, D. L., Hawkins, D. G., Roberts, J. T., Findley, M. G., Powers, R. M., et al. (2011). More dollars than sense: refining our knowledge of development finance using AidData. World Development, 39, 1891–1906.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Tollefsen, A. F., Strand, H., & Buhaug, H. (2012). PRIO-GRID: a unified spatial data structure. Journal of Peace Research, 49(2), 363–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. UNHCA. (2016). Humanitarian coordinator demands there be no more attacks against aid workers in South Sudan. Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. http://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/humanitarian-coordinator-demands-there-be-no-more-attacks-against-aid-workers. Accessed 28 Aug 2016.

  79. von Uexkull, N. (2014). Sustained drought, vulnerability and civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa. Political Geography, 43, 16–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Vuong, Q. H. (1989). Likelihood ratio tests for model selection and non-nested hypotheses. Econometrica, 57(2), 307–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Wood, R. M., & Sullivan, C. (2015). Doing harm by doing good? The negative externalities of humanitarian aid provision during civil conflict. The Journal of Politics, 77(3), 736–748.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Young, J. K., & Findley, M. G. (2011). Can peace be purchased? A sectoral-level analysis of aid’s influence on transnational terrorism. Public Choice, 149(3), 365–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alex Braithwaite.

Additional information

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11127-016-0384-x.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1710 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bezerra, P., Braithwaite, A. Locating foreign aid commitments in response to political violence. Public Choice 169, 333–355 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-016-0377-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Political violence
  • Foreign aid
  • Disaggregated analysis
  • Zero-inflated negative binomial analysis

JEL Classification

  • D74
  • F35
  • H56