Will China's AIIB unsettle the World Bank? New research from Niehaus Ph.D. student and faculty 

Feb. 15, 2023

Jing Qian, James Raymond Vreeland, and Jianzhi Zhao recently published an article entitled "The Impact of China's AIIB on the World Bank" in International Organization. Their study presents the first systematic evidence that China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) could unsettle the political influence the United States has enjoyed over developing countries through its leadership of the World Bank.

An important set of countries---the developing countries that helped found the AIIB---may be parting ways with the World Bank and looking to a Chinese institution for leadership in the world of development. Using a new causal inference method, the Dynamic Multilevel Latent Factor Model (as well as several well-known estimation models as robustness checks), the authors document at least a temporary decrease in the number of World Bank infrastructure projects that the developing AIIB founders have entered into.

Specifically, the authors estimate an average reduction of 22 percent in the annual number of new World Bank infrastructure projects for the developing country founders of the AIIB. The estimated effect is attenuated in 2019, suggesting that it may be temporary (unfortunately, analysis of 2020 data is confounded by the pandemic). Still, the analysis shows at least a temporary effect for the developing AIIB founders. The study suggests that the AIIB may represent a challenge to the political influence the United States has enjoyed over developing countries through its leadership at the World Bank.

Jing Qian is a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics and a graduate student associate of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. His research explores the domestic and international politics of international taxation, with a focus on why governments have been reluctant and unable to curb tax avoidance for decades. He is also interested in studying China's emerging role in international economic governance, especially in development assistance.

James Raymond Vreeland is Professor of Politics and International Affairs in the Department of Politics and the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. He is the author of several books and articles on the politics of international financial institutions.

Jianzhi Zhao is Associate Professor in the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. His current research interests are global development, global governance, and global public policy. He has worked for multiple international organizations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.