Research / BFI Working PaperJun 18, 2021

Aid Fragmentation and Corruption

Travers B. Child, Austin Wright, Yun Xiao

Aid fragmentation—the simultaneous operation of multiple development agencies in one setting—has long raised concerns about coordination challenges and opportunities for corruption. Leveraging unique data on project delivery in Afghanistan, we present the first microlevel empirical analysis of aid fragmentation. We find that aid delivered by a single donor can significantly reduce corruption. Projects delivered under conditions of aid fragmentation, by contrast, can facilitate corruption. We find evidence for a theoretical mechanism linking infrastructure and physical goods with waste and leakage. Our results clarify the policy losses tied to fragmentation, yielding insights for combating misappropriation of aid.

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