Our Global Development Challenge project is investigating the effectiveness of foreign aid in promoting international development.

As one of the most generous aid donors, Britain is a world leader in international development. The 2015 International Development (Official Development Assistance) Act committed Britain to spending 0.7 per cent of its national income on foreign aid, and Britain is by far the largest contributor to the global multilateral system. At the last General Election, all major political parties supported maintaining Britain's aid commitments.

Yet 54 per cent of British voters believe that most aid is wasted, and Britain's aid spending has been subject to repeated tabloid attacks since late 2016. Scepticism is not limited to the press: aid's opponents cite sceptical economists such as Peter (later Lord) Bauer and Sir Angus Deaton who have argued that aid can actually obstruct development.

The Global Development Challenge was set up in 2016 to take a step back from the political debate and conduct a thorough and balanced assessment of the available evidence on aid’s effectiveness. Its first paper surveys the broad and expanding academic literature on aid. A second paper, to be published in 2018, will explore the history of Britain’s contribution to international development, including the role and performance of DFID, and suggest possible directions for the future in the light of new challenges. 

The Global Development Challenge is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.