Chapter 14: The macroeconomic impact of aid in recipient countries: old wine in new bottles?
In his seminal study ‘Does aid work?’, first published almost three decades ago, Robert Cassen argued quite rightly that ‘much of the public discussion of aid has been distorted by prejudice, ideology and selective glimpses of parts of the evidence’ and that ‘most aid does succeed in terms of its own objectives and obtains a reasonable rate of return; but a significant proportion does not’ (Cassen, 1986: 6, 1994). It is also fair to argue that aid is one of the few topics in the development discourse with such an uninterrupted and volatile history in terms of interest and attention from academics, policymakers, and practitioners alike. As Riddell (2007: 2) has put it, ‘aid has managed, repeatedly, to reinvent and renew itself after repeated bouts of uncertainty, doubt and pessimism’. In the early 1990s many observers predicted the ‘end of history’ for development aid following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Cold War. However, recent years have witnessed a revived interest in aid issues. Indeed various developments over the last couple of decades have contributed to that outcome.
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