Working paper

Understanding donor motivations: developing the Principled Aid Index

International relations International cooperation International relief Foreign aid


Amid a rising tide of political populism in Europe and beyond, the idea that official development assistance should serve the national interest is gaining currency. Yet there is little explicit recognition that aid oriented towards securing domestic interests is not always the most efficient, nor the most effective, way to maximise global development ambitions. Conversely, we forget that aid focused on delivering global development can itself service the national interest. A world that is safer and more equal, ecologically resilient and prosperous is one that serves the aid donor, just as much as it benefits the aid recipient.

ODI’s Principled Aid Index (PA Index) visualises data measuring the 29 bilateral donors’ motivations for providing official development assistance. The Index ranks donors according to whether their foreign aid allocations support a principled or parochial national interest.

This working paper outlines the conceptual framework that informed the Index’s development, how we selected our indicators and scored and ranked countries. This paper should be read alongside our briefing note reviewing the PA Index results.

Publication Details
ODI Working paper 548
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