2014 Economic Development, Organisation and Management of Aid Analysis

The Poverty Focus of Swedish Bilateral Aid: A Comparativ Analysis

Bob Baulch

The Development Assistance Committee’s peer review of 2013 notes that “Sweden’s aid remained largely as it was at the time of the last peer review: thinly spread across a wide range of countries and sectors”. The review commented that the 2007 policy of focusing Swedish aid on fewer countries and thematic areas has not been successful as it might have been and that the poverty focus of Swedish aid could be sharpened.

This paper has been prepared for the 1 September seminar organised by the Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies. It considers the poverty focus of Swedish bilateral aid in comparative perspective by constructing aid concentration curves for Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Poverty is measured using both standard monetary measures of absolute poverty, as well as two non-monetary indicators of deprivation.

Main findings

  • Sweden does well in targeting its aid to the poorest countries.
  • Sweden disburses a modest share (25%) of its country-specific aid to lower middle income countries given that around three fifths of poor and deprived people globally living in these countries.
  • Sweden is relatively generous in the aid it gives to upper middle-income countries.
  • Sweden’s bilateral aid is found to be less progressive (that is less poverty and deprivation focused) than the aid programmes of Denmark and the United Kingdom but more progressive than that of the USA.
  • Sweden’s bilateral aid programme is also shown to be more progressive than for all DAC donors taken together, especially among low income countries.

Bob Baulch
, Associate Professor, RMIT University Vietnam