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Polish and Czech foreign aid: a ‘mélange’ of geopolitical and developmental objectives


This paper seeks to bring new insights into the foreign aid allocation behaviour and patterns of two donors from the group of post-communist EU member countries, namely Poland and the Czech Republic. We use quantitative regression analysis to address Polish and Czech foreign aid objectives with a specific emphasis on geopolitical considerations and promotion of democracy. The results reveal a considerable level of similarity between Polish and Czech foreign aid allocation. Both donor countries use foreign aid to safeguard their own geopolitical self-interests—the Czech Republic and especially Poland prioritise post-Soviet countries in their aid allocations. They also prefer recipients in a relative geographic proximity. On the other hand, economic objectives are not significant drivers of Polish and Czech foreign aid. Given the recipients’ needs, the middle-income effects are evident in both countries’ aid allocations. Although support of democracy is an official objective of both donors, the level of democracy and freedom played a statistically significant role only in the allocation of overall Czech aid. A separated analysis on Polish and Czech democracy aid reveals even stronger biases of democracy aid towards former post-Soviet countries. Our research has also acknowledged the need for a more precise definition of democratic assistance.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Heteroscedasticity refers to a situation in which the variability of a dependent variable is unequal across the range of values of independent variables. It occurs as a violation of a homoscedasticity assumption according to which the variability of a dependent variable is equal across any set of values of independent variables.

  2. 2.

    There are at least two reasons to choose this indicator. First, we want to use an index that measures the quality of public institutions. According to the World Bank (2017), this indicator captures the perceptions of the quality of public and civil services and the degree of their independence from political pressures. It also captures the perceptions of the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's commitment to such policies. The second reason is rather functional: this dimension of the Worldwide Governance Indicators has the lowest correlation with other variables used in the context of the merit hypothesis.

  3. 3.

    As already pointed out earlier, the same logic could be applied to the quality of governance and institutions. Similarly, while we categorise democracy and freedoms among factors of merit, their deficiencies could be regarded as special needs as well. This suggests that the classification of factors is sometimes debatable.


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Correspondence to Zdeněk Opršal.

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Opršal, Z., Harmáček, J., Vítová, P. et al. Polish and Czech foreign aid: a ‘mélange’ of geopolitical and developmental objectives. J Int Relat Dev 24, 279–305 (2021).

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  • Aid allocation
  • Czech Republic
  • Democracy aid
  • Foreign aid
  • Geopolitics
  • Poland