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Individual and country-level factors affecting support for foreign aid

  • Paxton, Pamela
  • Knack, Stephen

In recent years donor countries have committed to dramatic increases in the supply of foreign aid to developing countries. Meeting and sustaining such commitments will require sufficient support among donor country voters and taxpayers. The determinants of public opinion in donor countries on foreign aid have received little attention. This paper examines attitudes to foreign aid with a large, multi-level, cross-national study. It outlines a theoretical rationale for support for foreign aid, discussing the importance of both individual factors and economic and social structures. The theory is tested with multi-level models, including both individual-level and country-level variables to predict positive attitudes. Two datasets are used to measure attitudes in donor countries: (1) the 1995 World Values Survey has information from approximately 6,000 individuals in nine countries and asks a rich battery of questions at the individual-level, and (2) the 2002 Gallup"Voice of the People"survey asks fewer questions of individuals but includes 17 donor countries. Using both surveys combines theirdistinct strengths and allows tests of individual and national-level theories across disparate samples. The results generally support the predictions that attitudes toward aid are influenced by religiosity, beliefs about the causes of poverty, awareness of international affairs, and trust in people and institutions.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4714.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4714
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  1. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alberto Chong & Mark Gradstein, 2006. "Who’s Afraid of Foreign Aid? The Donors’ Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 1833, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. David Roodman, 2007. "The Anarchy of Numbers: Aid, Development, and Cross-Country Empirics," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 255-277, May.
  4. David Roodman & Scott Standley, 2006. "Tax policies to promote private charitable giving in DAC countries," Working Papers 82, Center for Global Development.
  5. Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard University), 2005. "Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others?," Working Papers gueconwpa~05-05-11, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Fisman, Raymond & Khanna, Tarun, 1999. "Is trust a historical residue? Information flows and trust levels," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 79-92, January.
  7. Dudley, Leonard & Montmarquette, Claude, 1976. "A Model of the Supply of Bilateral Foreign Aid," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(1), pages 132-42, March.
  8. Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997. "Aid, policies, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1777, The World Bank.
  9. Delhey, Jan & Newton, Kenneth, 2004. "Social trust: Global pattern or nordic exceptionalism?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration SP I 2004-202, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  10. Mosley, Paul, 1985. "The Political Economy of Foreign Aid: A Model of the Market for a Public Good," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 373-93, January.
  11. Hatzipanayotou, Panos & Michael, Michael S., 1995. "Foreign aid and public goods," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 455-467, August.
  12. La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997. "Trust in Large Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-38, May.
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