Aid Networks & Global Ties

This article was recently accepted for publication in Social Science Research. In it, I explore the relationship between aid ties and other global ties to international actors. Complementing some of my earlier research on this subject, it shows that the more tied to world society a country is, the more donors will provide it bilateral aid.

Here is the abstract:

This article examines competing explanations for foreign aid allocation on the global level and argues for a new approach to understanding aid from an institutionalist perspective. Using network data on all official bilateral aid relationships between countries in the period from 1975 through 2006 and data on recipient country ties to world society, the article offers an alternative explanation for the allocation of global foreign aid. Fixed effects negative binomial regression models on a panel sample of 117 developing countries reveal that global ties to world society in the form of non-governmental memberships and treaty ratifications are strong determinants of the network centrality of recipient countries in the global foreign aid network. Countries with a higher level of adherence and connection to world society norms and organizations are shown to be the beneficiaries of an increased number of aid relationships with wealthy donor countries. The findings also suggest that prior explanations of aid allocation grounded in altruist or realist motivations are insufficient to account for the patterns of aid allocation seen globally in recent years.

UPDATE: The advance copy of this article is now available on the SSR site:

Download (PDF, 656KB)

New Grant: Developing Conformity

Last week, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) publicly announced the results of its 2015 Insight Grant competition. I was very lucky to have my proposal selected for funding this year. This means my new 5-year project on foreign aid and global norms is officially a go.

I will have the great fortune to continue my work with an amazing team of collaborators including Stephen Brown, Andy Dawson, Katy Fallon, and Wes Longhofer as the project unfolds, and to support the work of my graduate students at MUN Sociology.

For more information about the project and to follow its results as they become available, I have created a project website at:

I greatly appreciate both SSHRC and MUN for their support of this work, and look forward to posting more about the research here soon.

Electoral Quota Adoption & Transnational Activism

My latest article, co-authored with Kathleen Fallon at Stony Brook University, is available for advance access at Politics & Gender:

Abstract: Electoral quotas are a key factor in increasing women’s political representation in parliaments globally. Despite the strong effects of quotas, less attention has been paid to the factors that prompt countries to adopt electoral quotas across developing countries. This article employs event history modeling to analyze quota adoption in 134 developing countries from 1987 to 2012, focusing on quota type, transnational activism, and norm cascades. The article asks the following questions: (1) How might quota adoption differ according to quota type—nonparty versus party quotas? (2) How has the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China (Beijing 95), contributed to quota diffusion? (3) Do global, regional, or neighboring country effects contribute more to quota adoption? Results provide new evidence of how quota adoption processes differ according to quota type, the central role played by participation in Beijing 95, and how increased global counts contribute to faster nonparty quota adoption while increased neighboring country counts lead to faster to party quota adoption.


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Opaque Transparency & Canada’s Foreign Aid Program

Stephen Brown (University of Ottawa) and I have written a short comment on issues of transparency in Canada’s foreign aid program for The McLeod Group.  Our thoughts in the piece stemmed from discussion during a panel at the recent Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) meetings.  Hopefully Canada can do even more to increase the transparency of not only its aid data, but also its policies and processes moving ahead.

You can read the piece here:




From “Gender Equality” to “Equality between Women & Men”


The shift in language about women and gender equality witnessed at the former CIDA under the former Harper government provoked significant concern and discussion at the time.  The prime concern here was that eschewing talk of gender equality was likely to have a negative effect on the prioritization of these issues in Canada’s aid program.

Figure 1.

Figure 1. Percent of Active Projects by CIDA GE Marker Category, 2005-2012 (HPD Dataset)

A former student (Jessica Barry) and I decided to examine whether that shift in language was borne out in the spending patterns seen immediately prior to and following this shift in discourse.  To answer this question, we analyzed the available data on Canadian aid spending to see if more or less aid was being spent on issue of gender equality in this period. The takeaway from our analysis was that the discursive shift did not appear to translate to a noticeable decline in spending on gender at the former CIDA, suggesting that the aid agency showed some resilience to the politicization of language it faced.

This research will soon appear in Rebecca Tiessen and Stephen Baranyi’s new edited book  Canada’s commitments to gender and development in the Global South to be published later this year by McGill-Queen’s University Press.



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