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Ashley Wright (DPIR, University of Oxford)

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Ashley Wright is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Politics and International Relations. She holds an MSc in Economics for Development (Oxford) and has previously interned for the US government and think tanks in Washington, DC. Her research focuses on the political economy of foreign aid, with a particular interest in U.S. aid agencies and their relationship with Congress.

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As a prominent global aid donor, democracy promotion has distinctively shaped U.S. foreign assistance activities. Democracy aid has been a prominent theme of U.S. foreign assistance since the Marshall Plan. More recently, between 2001 and 2015, the U.S. annually disbursed $18 billion on average in democracy and governance aid, which represents (on average) 43% of the total U.S. foreign aid budget (calculated by the author from U.S. Government data and including Department of Defence figures). Nevertheless, the relationship between institutions and aid is complex and disputed. Scholars argue that inclusive and equitable institutions underpin economic growth and catalyse foreign assistance. Yet aid may also feed back on institutions, strengthening, weakening, or consolidating them. In December 2021, President Biden reflected on …