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Need some foreign aid from the US? Make sure to get your country on the UN Security Council

Seven years ago a Harvard undergrad named Ilyana Kuziemko emailed me asking if I had any summer research positions available. At the time, nobody ever sent me this kind of email, so I hired her and she spent the summer in Chicago doing research with me. It was clear then that she had a very special talent for economics.

Consequently, it comes as no surprise that now, as a Ph.D. student at Harvard, she is producing cutting-edge economic research. With co-author Eric Werker, she has written a paper entitled “How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations.” In this paper, they find that when a country takes over one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council, U.S. foreign aid jumps by almost 60%. When the country leaves the Security Council, the aid falls back to the old levels. The impact on aid is even larger when there are important international events (like invasions of Iraq) that put the Security Council in the spotlight.

This paper is forthcoming in Journal of Political Economy, where I am one of the editors.

And if you want to hear her radio debut being interviewed by BBC, go to the BBC website . On the lower right-hand side of the page there is a tab called “LISTEN AGAIN.” You want to click on the tab that says “Audio 23:00 GMT.” Ilyana’s interview starts about 16 minutes and 20 seconds into the segment, so you will want to fast forward. If you want to hear it, you’ll need to hurry because it looks like it only stays up on the site for a day.