Journal Article
Aid and state transition in Ghana and South Korea

This paper examines the questions of why and how foreign assistance was utilised successfully in South Korea but less so in Ghana, with a focus on the role of aid in the process of state building and state transition in these two countries. As multiple policy makers and scholars have noted, in 1957 South Korea and Ghana shared similar levels of GDP per capita, yet South Korea then achieved rapid economic development and democracy in one generation, while Ghana suffered from slow development and a general deterioration of the standard of living. In this study I adopt a comparative historical research method to explain the divergent paths of these two countries, with a special focus on the impact of foreign assistance on state transitions. I argue that contextual factors – including the effect of the colonial legacy in each of these two regions in shaping modern states, and the specific characteristics of foreign assistance intervention – provide useful insights in explaining the differential impact of aid on state building and state transition in Ghana and in South Korea.

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