Is the Road to Hell Paved with Good Intentions? The Effect of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Economic Policy on Human Rights
Description: Theories in the international political economy literature, economic liberalism and dependency, are explored in order to test the effect of U.S. aid, trade, and investment on human rights conditions in recipient states. Two measures of human rights conditions serve as dependent variables: security rights and subsistence rights. The data cover approximately 140 countries from 1976-1996. Pooled cross-sectional time series analysis, utilizing ordinary least squares (OLS) with panel corrected standard errors, is employed due to the temporal and spatial characteristics of the data. The results indicate that foreign assistance and economic policy may not be the best approaches to altering poor human rights practices in the area of security rights. Economic and military aid is negatively associated with levels of security rights, supporting the traditional dependency perspective. While the results from trade and investment are generally in the positive direction, the lack of consistent statistical evidence suggests that increased trade and investment relationships do not dramatically improve security rights. We can conclude, however, that trade and investment fail to have the negative effect on security rights in less developed countries which critics of globalization suggest. Economic aid has a statistically significant negative effect on subsistence rights, while military aid seems to benefit the human condition in recipient states. However, extreme negative effects on security rights accompany any benefit realized in the area of subsistence rights from military aid. Trade and investment have a positive and statistically significant effect on basic human needs providing support for the liberal perspective. It appears that American businesses and politicians can forge ahead with seemingly self-interested motivations and economic policies as American economic gain ironically serves to benefit the well being of citizens in other states. However, in spite of political rhetoric and even sincere intentions regarding foreign assistance policy, it appears that the road to ...
Date: August 2001
Creator: Callaway, Rhonda L.