Aiding and Abetting: The Influence of Foreign Assistance on Incumbent Advantage in Africa
Degree awarded: Ph.D. School of International Service. American University Can changes in foreign aid influence incumbent advantage in aid-recipient countries? This dissertation suggests that in post-Cold War Africa, the answer is yes. The argument rests on a cross-national analysis of all African elections between 1990 and 2006 and three case studies of African elections. The cross-national analysis demonstrates a durable correlation between changes in aid and incumbent advantage. Case studies of elections in Ghana in 2000, Malawi in 1999, and Kenya in 1992 present subnational confirmation of the main findings and flush out the mechanisms that link aid changes to incumbent advantage. The dissertation thus demonstrates that foreign aid volatility influences election results in Africa, that aid recipients often are able to use an electoral logic to strategically target aid, and that African voters are influenced by the provision of goods and services.