Both sides of the institutions and growth debate have resorted largely to microeconometric techniques in testing hypotheses. In this paper, I build a panel structural vector autoregression (SVAR) model for a short panel of 119 countries over 10 years and find support for the institutions hypothesis. Controlling for individual fixed effects, I find that exogenous shocks to a proxy for institutional quality have a positive and statistically significant effect on GDP per capita. On average, a 1 percent shock in institutional quality leads to a peak 1.7 percent increase in GDP per capita after six years. Results are robust to using a different proxy for institutional quality. There are different dynamics for advanced economies and developing countries. This suggests diminishing returns to institutional quality improvements.
The paper focuses on the operational implications of high and volatile aid for the design of Fund-supported programs. It provides a conceptual framework that should guide country teams in giving advice to low-income countries on a case-by-case basis, without specific quantitative performance thresholds for the spending and absorption of additional aid. In doing so, it responds to some of the concerns raised by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) in its recent evaluation of the Fund and aid to sub-Saharan Africa