Domestic Politics and the Motives of Emerging Donors: Evidence from Turkish Foreign Aid

Date01 September 2018
Published date01 September 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Political Research Quarterly
2018, Vol. 71(3) 614 –627
© 2018 University of Utah
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DOI: 10.1177/1065912917750783
The growing importance of developing countries as aid
donors is a significant change in development finance.
Until recently, these “emerging” (or new) donors have
been primarily recipients, but today they give more than
10 percent of global aid (Dreher, Fuchs, and Nunnenkamp
2013; Walz and Ramachandran 2011). Moreover, this
trend is likely to continue as developing countries become
richer, which has led one observer to argue that a “silent
revolution” is underway (Woods 2008). These develop-
ments may have positive or negative consequences for
recipient states depending on how and why emerging
donors give aid. Broadly, there are two views on emerg-
ing donors’ motives. Those who suspect that new donors
are mainly motivated by self-interest warn developing
countries of “donors who are more interested in extract-
ing [their] resources than in building [their] capacity” and
“new colonialism.”1 Others claim that emerging donors
are motivated by solidarity with other developing econo-
mies and have the potential to promote growth.2
The scarcity of reliable data on new donors remains a
major obstacle to studying their motives systematically.
Walz and Ramachandran (2011, 6) note that there is
a conspicuous lack of clear data from some of the largest and
most rapidly evolving aid donors such as China, India and
Brazil. Many countries have no standard system for reporting
[official development aid], or even definitions of what
qualifies as development assistance.
For this reason, although existing studies on emerging
donors have made important contributions, they are lim-
ited to a small number of donor countries and years
(Dreher and Fuchs 2015; Dreher, Nunnenkamp, and
Thiele 2011; Fuchs and Vadlamannati 2013).
In this paper, we contribute to the literature on foreign
aid by analyzing the bilateral aid allocation of a major
new donor, Turkey, since 1992. The data come from
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Developme nt–Development Assistance Committee
(OECD DAC) database and have a number of advanta-
geous features that allow a detailed analysis of this emerg-
ing donor. Turkey is not a member of the OECD DAC but
has reported to the DAC database since 1992. Turkish bilat-
eral aid has been recorded according to the guidelines and
definitions of the OECD, which facilitates comparison
750783PRQXXX10.1177/1065912917750783Political Research QuarterlyKavakli
1Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey
Corresponding Author:
Kerim Can Kavakli, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabanci
University, University Street No: 27, Tuzla, 34956 Istanbul, Turkey.
Domestic Politics and the Motives of
Emerging Donors: Evidence from
Turkish Foreign Aid
Kerim Can Kavakli1
Why do developing countries give foreign aid? Although emerging donors are gaining importance in development
finance, lack of systematic data on their aid allocation limits our understanding of their motives. We address this gap
using detailed data on a major new donor, Turkey, since 1992. We show that domestic politics has had a large impact
on Turkey’s priorities in giving aid. Turkish aid used to be determined by international alignments and coethnicity,
but after the Islamic AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) took power, political ties lost importance. Turkey began to give
more economic aid to trade partners and more humanitarian aid to Muslim nations. While this new focus on trade
ties makes Turkey more similar to traditional donors, the growing role of cultural ties sets Turkey apart. The broader
lesson of this study on Turkey is that government change can significantly influence the way emerging donors give aid
and these changes can vary in predictable ways across different types of aid.
foreign policy, foreign aid, emerging donors, Turkey, Turkish foreign aid

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