Foreign Aid toward the Millennium

Foreign Aid toward the Millennium

Foreign Aid toward the Millennium

Foreign Aid toward the Millennium


This work examines the fundamental changes and widespread uncertainty that characterise the foreign-assistance regime of the mid-1990s. It considers, cross-nationally, how donor and recipient states are adapting their aid relationships to the transformed geopolitical environment.


Few aspects of world politics in the late twentieth century have been as controversial as foreign aid.

The practice of sharing wealth with impoverished peoples has emerged as a norm among industrialized countries, and nearly every state in the world has participated as a donor or recipient of foreign aid since World War II. Donors created permanent aid bureaucracies, international development agencies established explicit qualitative standards for aid flows, and all parties to the emerging aid regime thoroughly documented the volume, direction, and terms of nearly $1 trillion in concessional loans and grants disbursed during the half century since World War II.

Yet, amid the growth and institutionalization of aid flows, the practice has been constantly subject to intense criticism and debate. Critics from all points on the ideological spectrum—in both rich and poor countries—have found fault with various aspects of foreign aid, and their debates have assumed a central role in North-South relations and international political economy.

The scholarly literature on foreign aid has reflected its controversial history. Realists charged that foreign aid reflected naive assumptions about world politics and insisted that aid programs should be either related to narrowly defined donor self-interests or eliminated outright. Pluralists generally defended aid programs in principle but criticized the inefficiencies of top‐ heavy aid bureaucracies and the provision of aid to repressive regimes. Neo-Marxists, meanwhile, typically dismissed foreign aid as an extension of capitalist control to the periphery of the world system and as an agent for continuing exploitation.Thus, foreign aid has endured relentless criticism while remaining a central feature of global economic relations in the late twentieth century.

Although scholars have produced numerous volumes addressing various aspects of global development, the literature has heretofore lacked a comprehensive, cross-national treatment of foreign assistance. Responding to this lacuna, the contributors to this book examine profound changes in the aid regime since the Cold War: the initial expectations for expanded aid flows in the pursuit of sustainable development, the subsequent cutbacks in many aid programs, the redirection of aid to Eastern Europe and the former . . .

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