Political Science ETDs


Yury V. Bosin

Publication Date



The goal of this study is to elucidate what drives the distribution of U.S. foreign assistance. Why do some states receive more than others? Does the U.S. use aid to reward certain good' policies? Can a regime pursue such policies to secure more U.S. funding? I answer these questions by examining patterns of aid distribution of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I find that USAID assistance is driven primarily by strategic interests, while the MCC is more oriented towards the recipient needs. To assess the effects of various democratic policies on the distribution of U.S. foreign aid, I disaggregate democracy into four elements: Quality of Elections, Human Rights Climate, Governance and Rule of Law, and Civil Society. In both USAID and MCC models, Quality of Elections appears to be a strong predictor of aid. This study opens a new line of research, which builds on closer integration between foreign aid and democracy research. The growing role of recipient regime policies in aid decisions, inclusion of democratization in U.S. strategic interests, and the tendency to reward elections before other democratic practices are all essential characteristics of U.S. foreign aid since the end of the Cold War. During this time, autocratic leaders have become increasingly adept at manipulating democratic forms, especially elections, to maintain their authoritarian regimes while still retaining the support of international sponsors. Therefore, the link between elections and foreign aid decisions is the key to understanding the complex relationships between 'elected' autocrats, international donors and democracy promoters.

Degree Name

Political Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Political Science

First Committee Member (Chair)

Stanley, William

Second Committee Member

Peceny, Mark

Third Committee Member

Hansen, Wendy

Fourth Committee Member

Hook, Steven

Project Sponsors

International Foundation for Electoral Systems George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Open Society Institute.




U.S. foreign aid, democratization, democracy, democratic policies, elections, United States Agency for International Development, Millennium Challenge Corporation, development, foreign assistance, Afghanistan, quality of elections

Document Type