What happens when women deal with foreign aid: The case of Sub-Saharan countries


  • Valentina Chiariello Parthenope




Economic growth, foreign aid, gender, developing countries


This paper seeks to evaluate whether there is any impact on aid effectiveness when there is a different gender composition of parliaments in recipient countries. The sample observed refers to 40 Sub-Saharan African countries over the period 2007-2019. The findings gained demonstrate that a higher presence of women in parliament leads to improvements in the relationship between aid and growth. When controlling for endogeneity problems that can affect the linkages between aid and growth, these results are confirmed. The channel through which their entry into politics seems to bring benefits to economic growth is the social sector, towards which a large part of foreign aid goes.


Adedokun A.J. (2017), “Foreign aid, governance and economic growth in sub‐Saharan Africa: Does one cap fit all?”, African Development Review, 29 (2), pp. 184-196.

Arndt C., Jones S. and Tarp F. (2015), “Assessing foreign aid’s long-run contribution to growth and development”, World Development, 69, pp. 6-18.

Abras A., Fava A.C.P.E. and Kuwahara M.Y. (2021), “Women Heads of State and Covid-19 Policy Responses”, Feminist Economics, 27 (1-2), pp. 380-400.

Baskaran T. and Hessami Z. (2018), “Does the election of a female leader clear the way for more women in politics?”, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 10 (3), pp. 95-121.

Bauer G. and Britton H.E. (2006), “Women in African Parliaments: A Continental Shift?”, in Bauer G. and Britton H.E. (eds.), Women in African Parliaments (pp. 1-44), Boulder (CO): Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Bauer P.T. and Yamey B.S. (2018), “Foreign aid: What is at stake?”, in Thompson W.S. (ed.), The Third World: Premises of U.S. Policy (pp. 115-138), New York: Routledge.

Brollo F. and Troiano U. (2016), “What happens when a woman wins an election? Evidence from close races in Brazil”, Journal of Development Economics, 122 (C), pp. 28-45.

Burnet J.E. (2008), “Gender balance and the meanings of women in governance in post-genocide Rwanda”, African Affairs, 107 (428), pp. 361-386.

Burnside C. and Dollar D. (2000), “Aid, Policies, and Growth”, American Economic Review, 90 (4), pp. 847-868.

Burnside C. and Dollar D. (2004), “Aid, Policies, and Growth: Reply”, American Economic Review, 94 (3), pp. 781-784.

Caiazza A. (2004), “Does women’s representation in elected office lead to women-friendly policy? Analysis of state-level data”, Women & Politics, 26 (1), pp. 35-70.

Chattopadhyay R. and Duflo E. (2004a), “Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in India”, Econometrica, 72 (5), pp. 1409-1443.

Chattopadhyay R. and Duflo E. (2004b), “Impact of reservation in Panchayati Raj: Evidence from a nationwide randomised experiment”, Economic and Political Weekly, 39 (9), pp. 979-986.

Chauvet L. and Guillaumont P. (2004), “Aid and growth revisited: policy, economic vulnerability and political instability”, in Tungodden B., Stern N. and Kolstad I. (eds.), Toward Pro-Poor Policies: Aid, Institutions, and Globalization (pp. 337-349), Washington (DC): World Bank and Oxford University Press.

Childs S., Lovenduski J. and Campbell R. (2005), “Women at the Top 2005: Changing Numbers, Changing Politics?”, Hansard Society.

Clemens M.A., Radelet S., Bhavnani R.R. and Bazzi S. (2012), “Counting chickens when they hatch: Timing and the effects of aid on growth”, Economic Journal, 122 (561), pp. 590-617.

Collier P. and Dollar D. (2001), “Can the world cut poverty in half? How policy reform and effective aid can meet international development goals”, World Development, 29 (11), pp. 1787-1802.

Croson R. and Gneezy U. (2009), “Gender differences in preferences”, Journal of Economic Literature, 47 (2), pp. 448-474.

Dalgaard C.J. and Hansen H. (2001), “On aid, growth and good policies”, Journal of Development Studies, 37 (6), pp. 17-41.

Dalgaard C.J. and Erickson L. (2009), “Reasonable Expectations and the First Millennium Development Goal: How Much Can Aid Achieve?”, World Development, 37 (7), pp. 1170-1181.

Dalgaard, C.J., Hansen H. and Tarp F. (2004), “On the empirics of foreign aid and growth”, The Economic Journal, 114 (496), F191-F216.

DiRienzo, C.E. and Das J. (2019), “Women in government, environment, and corruption”, Environmental Development, 30, pp. 103-113.

Dynan K. and Sheiner L. (2018), “GDP as a measure of economic well-being”, Hutchins Center Working Paper, n. 43, Washington (DC): Brookings Institution .

Djankov S., Montalvo J.G. and Reynal-Querol M. (2008), “The curse of aid”, Journal of Economic Growth, 13 (3), pp. 169-194.

Dollar D., Fisman R. and Gatti R. (2001), “Are women really the ‘fairer’ sex? Corruption and women in government”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 46 (4), pp. 423-429.

Easterly W. and Levine R. (1997), “Africa’s growth tragedy: policies and ethnic divisions”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics”, 112 (4), pp. 1203-1250.

Easterly W. (2007), “Was development assistance a mistake?”, American Economic Review, 97 (2), pp. 328-332.

Easterly W. and Chamberlain M. (2017), The white man’s burden: why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good , Old Saybrook, CT: Tantor Media.

Easterly W., Levine R. and Roodman D. (2004), “New Data, New Doubts: A Comment on Burnside and Dollar’s ‘Aid, Policies, and Growth’ (2000)”, American Economic Review, 94 (3), pp. 774-780.

Eckel C. and Grossman P.J. (1998), “Are women less selfish than men? Evidence from dictator experiments”, Economic Journal, 108 (448), pp. 726-735.

Economides G., Kalyvitis S. and Philippopoulos A. (2008), “Does foreign aid distort incentives and hurt growth? Theory and evidence from 75 aid-recipient countries”, Public Choice, 134 (3), pp. 463-488.

Friedman M. (1995), Foreign economic aid: Means and objectives, Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.

Goetz A.M. (1998), “Women in politics & gender equity in policy: South Africa & Uganda”, Review of African Political Economy, 25 (76), pp. 241-262.

Goetz A.M. and Hassim S. (eds.) (2003), No shortcuts to power: African women in politics and policy making, London: Zed Books.

Hansen H. and Tarp F. (2001), “Aid and growth regressions”, Journal of Development Economics, 64 (2), pp. 547-570.

Hernández-Nicolás C.M., Martín-Ugedo J.F. and Mínguez-Vera A. (2018), “Women mayors and management of Spanish councils: An empirical analysis”, Feminist Economics, 24 (1), pp. 168-191.

Hessami Z. and da Fonseca M.L. (2020), “Female political representation and substantive effects on policies: A literature review”, European Journal of Political Economy, 63, 101896.

Hicks D.L., Hicks J.H. and Maldonado B. (2016), “Women as policy makers and donors: Female legislators and foreign aid”, European Journal of Political Economy, 41, pp. 46-60.

Jha C.K. and Sarangi S. (2018), “Women and corruption: What positions must they hold to make a difference?”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 151, pp. 219-233.

Juselius K., Møller N.F. and Tarp F. (2014), “The long‐run impact of foreign aid in 36 African countries: Insights from multivariate time series analysis”, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 76 (2), pp. 153-184.

Kaufmann D., Kraay A. and Mastruzzi M. (2011), “The Worldwide Governance Indicators: Methodology and Analytical Issues”, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 3 (2), pp. 220-246.

Marshall M.G., Gurr T.R. and Jaggers K. (2013), “Polity IV project: Political regime characteristics and transitions, 1800-2012”, Vienna, VA: Center for Systemic Peace.

Meier G.M. and Stiglitz J.E. (eds.) (2001), Frontiers of development economics: the future in perspective, New York: World Bank and Oxford University Press.

Michaelowa K. and Weber A. (2008), “Aid effectiveness in primary, secondary and tertiary education”, Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008, Education for All by 2015: will we make it?

Mishra P. and Newhouse D.L. (2009), “Does health aid matter?”, Journal of Health Economics, 28 (4), pp. 855-872.

Moyo D. (2009), Dead aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux .

OECD (2014a), OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS), Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

OECD (2014b), Technical Guide to the DAC Statistics database, OECD Aid Statistics, Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Paxton P. and Kunovich S. (2003), “Women’s political representation: The importance of ideology”, Social Forces, 82 (1), pp. 87-113.

Powley E. (2006), “Rwanda: The Impact of women legislators on policy outcomes affecting children and families”, The State of the World’s Children background paper, New York: UNICEF.

Rajan R. and Subramanian A. (2007), “Does aid affect governance?”, American Economic Review, 97 (2), pp. 322-327.

Rajan R.G., and Subramanian A. (2008), “Aid and growth: What does the cross-country evidence really show?”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 90 (4), pp. 643-665.

Rajan R.G. and Subramanian A. (2011), “Aid, Dutch disease, and manufacturing growth”, Journal of Development Economics, 94 (1), pp. 106-118.

Sachs J., McArthur J.W., Schmidt-Traub G., Kruk M., Bahadur C., Faye M. and McCord G. (2004), “Ending Africa’s poverty trap”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 35 (1), pp. 117-240, Washington (DC): Brookings Institution.

Schwindt‐Bayer L.A. (2006), “Still supermadres? Gender and the policy priorities of Latin American legislators”, American Journal of Political Science, 50 (3), pp. 570-585.

Shukralla E. and Allan W. (2011), “Foreign aid, women in parliament and corruption: empirical evidence from the 2000s”, Economics Bulletin, 31 (1), pp. 519-533.

Swamy A., Knack S., Lee Y. and Azfar O. (2001), “Gender and corruption”, Journal of Development Economics, 64 (1), pp. 25-55.

Tang K.B. and Bundhoo D. (2017), “Foreign aid and economic growth in developing countries: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa”, Theoretical Economics Letters, 7 (05), pp. 1473-1491.

Williams A. (2011), “Shining a Light on the Resource Curse: An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship between Natural Resources, Transparency, and Economic Growth”, World Development, 39 (4), pp. 490-505.




How to Cite

Chiariello, V. (2022). What happens when women deal with foreign aid: The case of Sub-Saharan countries. PSL Quarterly Review, 75(300), 25–46. https://doi.org/10.13133/2037-3643/17482