Defining the Scope of Aid Reduction and Its Challenges for Civil Society Organizations: Laying the Foundation for New Theory


Political Science and International Affairs

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School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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Much of the literature on local civil society organizations and foreign aid focuses on the short-term consequences of funding cycles and contract conditions, but treats foreign aid at the macrolevel like a largely stable condition, as though countries receiving foreign aid will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Empirical evidence of aid reduction, however, suggests that this approach neglects long-term phenomena. This article examines aid patterns on a global scale and explores their potential consequences for civil society organizations. Working from World Bank data, we identify general patterns in country-level aid reduction. We examine the frequency of country-level aid reduction, the magnitude of reduction, its duration, and whether aid reduction tends to be rapid or gradual. Mapping these patterns establishes that country-level reductions in aid are a regularly occurring, global phenomenon. Moreover, even as global ODA levels increase, instances of country-level aid reduction are also increasing. Our findings lay the foundation for building new, generalizable theory about aid reduction and allow us to identify pressing questions about the consequences for civil society organizations in need of further research.


Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations

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