Original Research

Foreign aid on economic growth in Africa: A comparison of low and middle-income countries

Aye Mengistu Alemu, Jin-Sang Lee
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 18, No 4 | a737 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v18i4.737 | © 2015 Aye Mengistu Alemu, Jin-Sang Lee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 September 2013 | Published: 27 November 2015

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Aye Mengistu Alemu, SolBridge International School of Business, Woosong University, Korea, Republic of
Jin-Sang Lee, Korea University, Korea, Republic of

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Previous empirical studies on the effects of foreign aid on economic growth have generated mixed results that make it difficult to draw policy recommendations. The main reason for such mixed results is the choice of a single aggregate list of countries, regardless of the disparities in levels of development. This study therefore fills the development gap by disaggregating the African data into a panel of 20 middle- income and 19 low- income African countries over a period of 15 years between 1995 and 2010, and employing a dynamic generalized method of moments (GMM) model to address the dynamic nature of economic growth as well as the problems of endogeneity. The results of this study support the theoretical hypothesis that a positive relationship between aid and GDP growth exists, but only for low-income African countries, not middle-income ones. On the other hand, the study reveals that middle- income African countries tend to experience a greater impact on their economic growth from foreign direct investment (FDI) and natural resources revenues, mainly oil exports. This implies that the frequent criticism that foreign aid has not contributed to economic growth is flawed, at least in the case of low-income African countries. In fact, foreign aid has played a critical role in stimulating economic growth in such countries through supplementing domestic sources of finance such as savings, thus increasing the amount of investment and capital stock in them.


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