Eroding the Culture of Contracting: Aid, Not Trade?

DRI Working Paper No. 86
By Christopher J. Coyne and Claudia R. Williamson

We analyze how two well-known development policies—international trade and aid—affects the ‘culture of contracting.’ The culture of contracting refers to those cultural characteristics—trust, respect, level of self-determination, and level of obedience—which allow for the impersonal exchange necessary for growth and development. Theoretically, trade and aid may affect the culture of contracting for better or worse. We empirically analyze both possibilities and find that international trade generates, on net, positive effects while foreign aid generates negative effects on the culture of contracting. The more open a country is to trade and the less aid it receives, the more likely it is to possess a stronger culture of contracting.