Master's Theses


Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Since the end of World War II, the United States has been the world’s largest granter of foreign aid. As with any foreign policy instrument, the U.S. use of aid is motivated by political, economic and ideological considerations. Aid can be used to enhance potential relationships, address economic needs of both the U.S. and recipient countries and serve to further U.S. ideological interests and values. The expected return will often depend on the specific aid recipient and surrounding circumstances. Perhaps one of the most controversial questions surrounding the use of aid is the influence it can have on a recipient’s human rights record. In the mid-1970s Congress took steps to tie U.S. foreign aid to the human rights performance of aid recipients. With Congress linking human rights concerns to U.S. foreign policy the relationship between aid and human rights has become an issue of both theoretical interest and policy importance. Despite a lack of empirical evidence that establishes a positive relationship between U.S. aid and improved recipient nation performance it remains U.S. policy to grant aid to countries with a U.S.-defined satisfactory or improving human rights record. This study attempts to determine if there is a significant relationship between U.S. aid to Latin America and the human rights performance of the receiving countries, and what the determinants of U.S. foreign aid allocation are with respect to recipient nation’s human rights records. The design of the study seeks “traces” of a microdecision-making process by exploring macrolevel data. The statistical analysis indicates that economic aid targeted for development projects is highly correlated to a decreased authoritarianism of the recipient regime. Such a change in the governmental regime is also highly correlated to increased respect for human rights. Based on these macrolevel results, macrolevel foreign policy recommendations along with microlevel research recommendations are made.


Lawrence V. Gould, Jr.

Date of Award

Summer 1989

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1989 Alan Arwine


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