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Help or Harm: The Unintended Consequences of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Ugandan Health Sector

Small Fund Research Project

The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed explosive growth in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly those involved in the provision of development aid in poor countries. NGOs have come to hold significant influence in the planning and design of aid delivery and have been viewed as a solution to the market failures of the public sector. However, it is not evident, based on either economic theory or current empirics, that NGOs can solve the public sector's market failures without creating others.

This project explores the effects of NGOs in the context of the Ugandan health sector. Here, NGOs have been both lauded for their efforts to deliver care to the poorest populations and accused of undermining the system of government-delivered healthcare. In particular, NGOs have been implicated in causing "internal brain drain" by creating distortionary incentives that lead to a massive shortage of health workers in the public sector.

Within the context of Uganda, I ask the following questions in relation to both the short- and long-run:
(1) How does the presence of NGOs affect the total stocks of physicians and nurses?
(2) How does the presence of NGOs affect key measures of population health?
(3) How does the presence of NGOs affect public sector expenditures on health?

Funding: Marshall Weinberg Research Fellowship

Funding Period: 05/01/2018 to 08/01/2018

International Focus: Uganda

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