Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



Foreign aid represents about 1 percent of the United States federal budget, but it also represents a significant portion of many recipient countries’ gross domestic products. Although there has been substantial interest in foreign aid among international political economy researchers over the last decade or so, there are still few if any answers to the most basic questions: who gets foreign aid, how much, and is it effective? Through a combination of cross-national analyses and a quantitative case study of Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency of 2003–2009, this dissertation seeks to advance our understanding of the utility of foreign aid as a foreign policy tool for the United States. The results indicate several important findings. First, U.S. economic assistance is directed toward deserving recipients despite claims focusing on strategic interests. Second, both economic and military aid from the U.S. to its allies have reduced the level of political development in those countries, whereas aid to nonallies has had beneficial results. Finally, aid has limited utility as a weapon against insurgencies: civilians respond positively to the number of certain types of projects, but the actual amount of money spent has no effect. The ultimate conclusion is that aid is a useful tool of foreign policy in preventing and combatting the breakdown of political order if it is applied correctly.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sobek, David A