Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

Coups d’état are a type of political instability that involves a sitting ruler being overthrown by his or her own military or other elite within the state apparatus. Coups are commonly viewed as a threat to democracy. Policy makers in donor countries have taken action in line with this belief by implementing foreign aid suspension policies in regard to states that recently experienced a coup. More recent research, however, shows that coups may actually promote democracy; particularly in long-standing autocratic states. In these circumstances, the new democracies may benefit more from an increase in aid, as opposed to suspension of aid. In the present study, I investigate whether successful coups and the level of democracy affect development aid receipts.

Based on relevant literature, I developed a model to predict development aid receipt. The model includes successful coups, democracy level, as well as various economic and social indicators as explanatory variables. I evaluated coups and development aid during the time period 1960 to 2007. Panel data was constructed using data from the World Bank, the Correlates of War project, as well as Powell and Thyne’s (2011) comprehensive coup dataset.

I find no evidence that donor countries change their behavior in response to recent coups. A post-hoc analysis of failed coup attempts was also conducted. This analysis revealed that donors do in fact change their behavior in response to failed coup, such that donors tend to increase their aid to the failed coup states. This effect was observed despite the fact that the vast majority of coups occur in autocratic states. I suggest that this effect is observed because donor countries are attempting to form relationships with the unshakeable autocratic leader before non-ally countries are able to form relationships.



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