Social Science & Medicine
Volume 206 Pages 1-122 (June 2018)
The social network of international health aid
Original research article
Lu Han, Mathias Koenig-Archibugi, Tore Opsahl
International development assistance for health generates an emergent social network in which policy makers in recipient countries are connected to numerous bilateral and multilateral aid agencies and to other aid recipients. Ties in this global network are channels for the transmission of knowledge, norms and influence in addition to material resources, and policy makers in centrally situated governments receive information faster and are exposed to a more diverse range of sources and perspectives. Since diversity of perspectives improves problem-solving capacity, the structural position of aid-receiving governments in the health aid network can affect the health outcomes that those governments are able to attain. We apply a recently developed Social Network Analysis measure to health aid data for 1990–2010 to investigate the relationship between country centrality in the health aid network and improvements in child health. A generalized method of moments (GMM) analysis indicates that, controlling for the volume of health aid and other factors, higher centrality in the health aid network is associated with better child survival rates in a sample of 110 low and middle income countries.