Aid Dependence in CambodiaHow Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy

Aid Dependence in CambodiaHow Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy

Sophal Ear

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780231161121

Publisher: Columbia University Press


This book reveals the pernicious effects of aid dependence and its perversion of Cambodian democracy. It analyzes the period since international intervention liberated Cambodia from pariah state status in the early 1990s and shows how the country’s social indicators and the integrity of its political institutions declined rapidly within a few short years, while inequality grew dramatically. It argues that international intervention and foreign aid resulted in higher maternal mortality rates and unprecedented corruption by the mid-2000s. Similarly it shows that the more aid-dependent a country is, the more distorted its incentives to develop sustainably become. Contrasting Cambodia’s clothing sector with its rice and livestock sectors and its internal handling of the avian flu epidemic, the book showcases the international community’s role in preventing Cambodia from controlling its national development. It argues that as Cambodia is a post-conflict state that is unable to refuse aid, it is rife with trial-and-error donor experiments and their unintended consequences, such as bad governance and poor domestic and tax revenue performance—a major factor curbing sustainable, nationally owned development. By outlining the terms through which countries can achieve better ownership of their development, the book offers alternatives for governments that are on the brink of collapse and dependent on foreign intervention and aid.