Last updated: December 2007
Volume 54, Number 4
IMF Staff Papers

Volatility of Development Aid: An Update

Aleš Bulíř and A Javier Hamann

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Abstract: The positive impact of foreign aid is limited by the erratic behavior of aid flows. The introduction in 1999 of various initiatives anchored in IMF Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers aimed at strengthening coordination among donors, improving the design of financial support programs, and improving domestic records of policy implementation should have led to an improvement in the time series properties of aid flows. We find no evidence of any fundamental changes in the way aid has been delivered during 2000–03. If anything, aid volatility has worsened somewhat and the information value of long-term lending commitments has declined. We take these results to mean that the main causes of the volatility and unpredictability of aid, and the broader issue of macroeconomic instability in low-income countries, may not have been addressed in a systematic manner by the donor community. [JEL F35; 019]