2020 Democracy and Human Rights Evaluation

Effects of Swedish and International Democracy Aid

Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, Rachel M. Gisselquist, Ana Horigoshi, Melissa Samarin, Kunal Sen

Democracy aid is a key component of Swedish international development cooperation. The EBA report Effects of Swedish and international democracy aid explores the effects of aid on countries level of democracy and under what conditions it might work better. The study draws both on a systematic review of the literature and on a new quantitative comparative analysis using multiple advanced econometric methods.

Main findings

  1. Both international and Swedish democracy aid have a small but positive effect on democracy in partner countries. There is no evidence of aid having a negative impact on democracy.
  2. The relatively small effects reflect the likely limited reach of democracy aid in authoritarian states and developing democracies.
  3. The effects on democracy are stronger for aid that specifically targets the core building blocks of democracy, such as civil society, free and fair elections, media freedom and human rights.
  4. Democracy aid is more effective when it comes to supporting democratization rather than at preventing democratic backsliding.
  5. The study shows that Swedish democracy aid to the core aspects of democracy, allocated directly to various countries, has declined in recent years.

Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, PhD, Development economist and Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER

Rachel M. Gisselquist, PhD, Senior Research Fellow with UNU-WIDER

Ana Horigoshi, PhD candidate, Université Paris-Dauphine/PSL

Melissa Samarin, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley

Kunal Sen, Professor of Development Economics, University of Manchester. Director of UNU-WIDER