Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Robles Olson on “Pathways of Governance Aid Effectiveness: Countries with Low Human Development”

In CCAPS Research Brief No. 35, Pathways of Governance Aid Effectiveness: Countries with Low Human Development, CCAPS researcher Daniel Robles Olson explores the effectiveness of democracy aid programs in two high-poverty and low-human development countries: Benin and Guinea.

The author’s research considers the causal mechanisms through which foreign development aid makes, or has made, an impact on democratic development in either country. Mr. Robles Olson’s research aims to identify whether democracy development programs are able to serve their ultimate goals in the context of low human development and significant capacity challenges within either country.

The case study is part of the CCAPS program’s Democratic Governance project, which is led by the Strauss Center’s state fragility initiative director Ashley Moran.

Despite their significant differences in terms of democratic histories, Benin and Guinea were chosen as important studies in contrast. While Benin has had considerably more success with democratic leadership transitions, Guinea’s troubled history with coups leaves its path to greater democratization significantly impeded. However, both countries share many similarities beyond the histories of their governments, prompting the author to explore why their paths to democracy have diverged so much.In his analysis, Mr. Robles Olson examines the available data regarding outcomes of various aid programs and differing democratic trajectories. The study finds that democracy-related aid programs have great effect in countries with low human development, and in Benin, served to professionalize the country’s civil service and government. This professionalization appears to be a key causal factor–and an obvious difference–in the depth of democratization in Benin, while the lack thereof appears to have hindered greater democratization in Guinea.