Did Aid Promote Democracy in Africa? Critiquing Gibson, Hoffman, and Jablonski
Keywords:Foreign aid, Democratisation, Africa, Technical assistance, Critique, Replication
This paper critiques Gibson et al.’s (2015) study on the relationship between technical assistance and patronage spending in sub-Saharan Africa after the Cold War. It identifies errors in the authors’ methods, including severe collinearity, exclusion of available data, undue use of the logarithm transformation, and missing values in key variables. After making the necessary corrections, the paper finds that technical assistance was positively and significantly related to political concession, as originally claimed by the authors, but negatively and insignificantly associated with the proxies for political patronage. This suggests that while technical assistance may have promoted political concession, it cannot be confidently held that it reduced patronage spending in the region post-Cold War. This raises concerns as the authors’ conclusion in this regard is central to the belief, in both literature and aid projects, that technical assistance from donors and institutions contributed to reducing political patronage in sub-Saharan Africa post-Cold War.
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