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Can Foreign Aid Create an Incentive for Good Governance? Evidence from the Millennium Challenge Corporation

39 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2006  

Doug Johnson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Tristan Zajonc

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 11, 2006

Abstract

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) awards aid to countries that perform well on a set of independently compiled governance indicators. Proponents of this new form of aid argue that 1) aid will be more effective when given to well-governed countries and 2) countries will respond to such rewards by pursuing sound policies. This paper is the first systematic attempt to evaluate the second hypothesis. By exploiting discontinuities in the MCC rules and reform patterns before and after the MCC was created, we are able to estimate the MCC incentive effect. Even though the MCC is still in its infancy, we find substantial evidence that countries respond to MCC incentives by improving their indicators. Controlling for general time trends, potential recipients of MCC funds improve 25 percent more indicators after the MCC was created than before it. While still to early to make a final assessment, a range of specifications yield similar results. We do not find any corresponding increase in growth rates.

Keywords: Aid effectiveness, MCC effect, performance-based aid, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Millennium Challenge Account

JEL Classification: F35, O19

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Doug and Zajonc, Tristan, Can Foreign Aid Create an Incentive for Good Governance? Evidence from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (April 11, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=896293 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.896293

Doug Johnson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Tristan Zajonc (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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