Aid and Two Gap Model

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Aid and the Two Gap Model Aid is a burning issue these days. The question of countries accepting foreign aid has intrigued economists and the general public for a quite a while. Television discussions and newspaper articles have frequently focused on this issue while politicians try to fight this matter out in the parliaments. Furthermore, many are trying to unravel the enigma of aid and its effects on growth. This paper, in the little word space provided, will try to establish a relation between aid and growth. It will do so by first defining aid and growth and then moving on to some of the important models which can be used to understand this link. We will discuss the two-gap model and then move on to the Solow and Harrod-Domar model, giving empirical examples in each case. Finally, we will analyze two countries and try to inspect the reasons for their different growth rates using the logic used in the discussed models. Aid can be defined as any voluntary transfer of resources. It can be either public (provided by donor countries or multilateral donor organization such as the IMF and The World Bank) or private (given by NGO’s.).The Organization for Economic Corporation and Development defines aid as any transfer of money or resource that fulfills the following criteria: a) The objective of the transfer should be noncommercial. b) It should be given for the purpose of economic development. c) The terms of the transfer should be concessional (interest rate should be less than the prevailing interest rate in the market OR the maturity period should be longer than usual). Aid should not be mixed with grant which is often used interchangeably with this term. Aid is any transfer that has concessional terms while grant is a form of aid that does not require the repayment of the principal. In this paper, we will often measure aid in the from of official development assistance (ODA) which is a convenient indicator of international aid flow. On the other hand, we will measure growth by scrutinizing the percentage change in GDP.

One of the most widely used framework for analyzing the effects of aid on growth is the two-gap model which holds a key position in policy decisions related to foreign assistance. The two gap model is based on the Harrod Domar equation g = s/v where s is savings rate v is capital output ratio Capital output ratio is assumed to be constant. The two gap model assumes that a developing country faces either a savings gap or a foreign exchange gap. The savings gap occurs when a country faces a shortage of savings to match Investment in attaining an intended growth rate. In such a case, foreign borrowing or aid can supplement the savings and help bridge the gap between savings and investment. This allows a country to achieve the targeted growth rate. Ft < I – S (Savings gap)

A foreign exchange gap takes place when a country’s exports are not enough to finance its imports. In such situations, aid is handy as it fills the foreign exchange gap and provides countries with sufficient exchange to reach the required level of imports. At a given point in time, only one of the two gaps is binding. Ft < M – X (Foreign Exchange gap)

Following this further, we fit empirical data into this model. Zambia is a developing country that has continuously received aid since the mid 1960’s. In 1992, almost 80% of Zambia’s investment was financed by foreign aid. Since, Zambia has received aid over such a long period, the two gap model predicted that its per capita GDP would reach $2300 by the turn

of the century. On the contrary, its GDP per capita in 2007 remained merely half of what was expected .i.e. $1300. The fig. below summarizes the analysis of the Zambian economy.

To examine whether the Zambian case is an exception or does the model always fail to predict the reality, we scrutinize on various factors which could have blocked the path of growth for this country. Zambia has been infected by violence and...
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