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  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The United States government has made repeated declarations over the last decade to align its assistance programs behind developing countries' priorities. By utilizing public attitude surveys for 42 African and Latin American countries, this paper examines how well the US has implemented this guiding principle. Building upon the Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA) approach, I identify what people cite most frequently as the 'most pressing problems' facing their nations and then measure the percentage of US assistance commitments that are directed towards addressing them. By focusing on public surveys over time, this analysis attempts to provide a more nuanced and targeted examination of whether US portfolios are addressing what people care the most about. As reference points, I compare US alignment trends with the two regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) – the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Overall, this analysis suggests that US assistance may be only modestly aligned with what people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America cite as their nation's most pressing problems. By comparison, the African Development Bank – which is majority-led by regional member nations – performs significantly better than the United States. Like the United States, however, the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrates a low relative level of support for people's top concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Latin America
  • Author: Oeindrila Dube, Suresh Naidu
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal conflict? We address this question by estimating how U.S. military aid affects violence and electoral participation in Colombia. We exploit the allocation of U.S. military aid to Colombian military bases, and compare how aid affects municipalities with and without bases. Using detailed political violence data, we find that U.S. military aid leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries (who collude with the military), but has no effect on guerilla attacks. Aid increases also result in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years. Moreover, when military aid rises, voter turnout falls more in base municipalities, especially those that are politically contested.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Four years ago, the G-7 pushed through an unprecedented initiative forcing the international financial institutions to cancel 100 percent of their outstanding debt claims on the world's poorest countries. Through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), these heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) stand to receive up to $60 billion in debt relief over time. Moreover, the World Bank, African Development Bank, and IMF shareholders approved a new debt sustainability framework to govern future lending decisions and prevent the need for yet another round of systemic debt relief. All parties emerged from these landmark agreements confident that the dragon of unsustainable debt finally had been slain. However, several unsettling trends raise serious questions about the finality of these actions. First, World Bank and AfDB lending disbursement volumes to these very same HIPC countries remain very high, and nearly the same as compared to pre-MDRI. Emergency IMF lending in response to the global economic crisis has compounded the situation. Second, IMF and World Bank growth projections for HIPCs remain overly rosy compared to actual and historical performance. Our new dataset of IMF growth projections suggests a structural optimism of at least one percentage point per year. Third, HIPCs continue to experience significant volatility in country performance measures that has a direct impact on their ability to carry debt sustainably. Taken together, these findings suggest that donor countries should re-examine the issue of debt sustainability in low-income countries and the system for determining the appropriate grant/loan mix. The upcoming IDA and AfDF replenishment negotiations present a timely opportunity to do so. Absent assertive and corrective action, the international community may be faced with the prospect of a HIPC IV agreement in the not too distant future.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Latin America