Foreign aid and international development frequently bring with it a range of unintended consequences, both negative and positive. This book delves into these consequences, providing a fresh and comprehensive guide to understanding and addressing them.

The book starts by laying out a theoretical framework based on complexity thinking, before going on to explore the ten most prevalent kinds of unintended effects of foreign aid: backlash effects, conflict effects, migration and resettlement effects, price effects, marginalization effects, behavioural effects, negative spillover effects, governance effects, environmental effects, and ripple effects. Each chapter revolves around a set of concrete case studies, analysing the mechanisms underpinning the unintended effects and proposing ways in which policymakers, practitioners, and evaluators can tackle negative side effects and maximize positive side effects. The book also includes personal testimonies, a succinct overview of unintended effects, and suggestions for further reading.

Providing a clear overview of what side effects to anticipate when planning, executing, and evaluating aid, this book will be an important resource for students, development practitioners, and policymakers alike.

The Open Access version of this book, available at https://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

chapter 1|13 pages


Understanding the unintended consequences of international development
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chapter 2|12 pages

For those who love theory

Explaining unintended effects with complexity theory and bounded policy learning
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chapter 3|18 pages

Backlash effects

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
Size: 2.57 MB

chapter 4|15 pages

Conflict effects

Fighting over and with aid
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chapter 5|14 pages

Migration and resettlement effects

Aid-induced displacement
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chapter 6|17 pages

Price effects

When aid drives prices up (or down)
Size: 3.35 MB

chapter 7|16 pages

Marginalization effects

Can aid unintentionally increase inequality?
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chapter 8|16 pages

Behavioural effects

Expect the unexpected!
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chapter 9|17 pages

Negative spillover effects

Look beyond your own targets
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chapter 10|16 pages

Governance effects

International development and the social contract, uneasy bedfellows
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chapter 11|18 pages

Environmental effects

Uneasy trade-offs between ecology and development
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chapter 12|18 pages

Ripple effects

The underestimation of positive effects of international development efforts
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chapter 13|14 pages


‘It's the complexity, stupid'
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