Princeton University Library Catalog

“Help Not Wanted”: An Empirical Analysis of the Effects of Chinese Aid On Democratic Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Li, Alicia [Browse]
Senior thesis
Ahmed, Faisal [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year:
108 pages
Summary note:
In light of Chinas’ rise to prominence as a donor to sub-Saharan Africa, this thesis investigates how China’s aid fits into the OECD/DAC-dominated foreign aid landscape. Examining whether or not China deserves the apprehension it faces as an “autocratic rogue donor”, the first part of this thesis uses quantitative methods to determine what regime type China prefers to donate to and how Chinese aid affects democratic governance quality in recipient countries. The United States, a democratic OECD/DAC country, is used as a benchmark against which Chinese aid preferences and effects are measured. The second part of this thesis conducts a case study of Chinese aid in Nigeria to examine the effects of interactions between Chinese aid and recipient characteristics. I find that China does not have the systematically negative effects on governance that it has been expected to have; however, at the country level, I do find evidence that some of the Chinese aid program’s qualities have the potential to enable patronage politics in countries with existing corruption problems and high degrees of ethnic fragmentation. In dispelling the validity of the “rogue aid” stereotype, this thesis also provides recommendations on how scholars ought to approach future research into China’s and other new donors’ aid policies.