The Irony of Choice in the 'New Development Financing Landscape'

Jack Taggart, Marcus Power

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The so-called “New Development Financing Landscape” has heralded claims of an “Age of Choice” for developing countries. Here, more diverse sources of development finance have undercut the monopoly of influence held by “traditional” donors: opening up greater “choice” or “policy space” for developing countries. This narrative, we argue, is a fiction. Instead, the field is characterised by scarcity, not abundance. Further, Northern and (re)emerging Southern donors have tended toward convergence; reducing the scope for recipients to play these actors off one another while restricting recipient agency to properly shape and direct agendas. These trends compel recipient states to compete for scarce public and skittish private finance in a (de)regulatory race to the bottom where they must either reform in a manner conducive to the exigencies of global capital or be “left behind”; the anathema of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We contest the view that the current development financing landscape constitutes an “Age of Choice” for developing countries. We instead outline three trends that circumscribe the choice and policy space that is available for developing countries in the present conjuncture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Geographical Journal
Early online date20 Sep 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 Sep 2021


  • Development finance
  • race to the bottom
  • competition state theory
  • policy space


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