Does Foreign Aid Build Peace?
Posted: 17 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 2018
Does foreign aid build peace? The answer is of paramount importance for policy makers and practitioners, given that the world's poor are growing increasingly concentrated in conflict-affected countries. Scholars have also demonstrated keen interest, primarily examining the relationship between foreign aid and civil wars. This review takes stock of the existing literature through a survey of key theoretical arguments connecting aid to the onset, dynamics, and recurrence of civil wars. It then articulates a key challenge posed by undertheorization of aid allocation, which is largely nonrandom, making the causal effects difficult to infer. I identify five areas in need of greater attention: microfoundational theoretical assumptions about aid flows; aid in the context of other foreign policy options; explicit articulation of other factors that may mediate or moderate aid's effects; levels of observation and aggregation; and measurement.
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