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Aid for the Poorest? The distribution and maldistribution of international development assistance

Bob Baulch



This paper examines the extent to which the distribution of development assistance is directed towards the poorest countries. Using the latest cross-country data available from the OECD and the World Bank, aid concentration curves are constructed for the major bilateral and multilateral donors. The ways in which different donors distribute their development assistance is shown to differ markedly. The two largest bilateral donors, the United States and Japan, and the largest multilateral donor, the European Commission, spend large amounts of their aid budgets in small, relatively well-off countries. In contrast, despite some bias towards small developing countries, the Netherlands, the UK and the World Bank direct most of their aid to the poorest countries. France, Germany and the UN System's aid programmes occupy an intermediate position. The paper concludes with a discussion of the questions the analysis poses for aid policy and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.


Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


policy aid MDGs international comparisons data

ISBN: 1-904049-34-6


Aid for the Poorest? PDF 455.7 KB
Aid for the Poorest? - Bilaterals Excel 675.5 KB
Aid for the Poorest? - Multilaterals Excel 214.5 KB

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