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Does Corruption reduce Public Support for Foreign Aid? Aid Effectiveness, Accountability and Foreign Aid Cuts

Conference contribution
Authors Monika Bauhr
Published in International Political Science Association
Publication year 2016
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords corruption, foreign aid, accountability
Subject categories Political Science


How does corruption influence public support for foreign aid? While early studies suggest that there is virtually no link between the level of corruption in recipient countries and the amount of aid received, few studies investigates the impact of corruption on public support for foreign aid. This study suggests that corruption causes aid fatigue and increases support for foreign aid cuts (i.e. that it influences the “the size of the cake”), but not necessarily support for how foreign aid is distributed (“how the cake is divided”). Instead, public support for project level responses are more sensitive to the context of corruption, such as the amount of aid money lost in corrupt transactions and the effectiveness of foreign aid. Using an original survey experiment in a country highly supportive of foreign aid, the results show that corruption increases support for overall foreign aid cuts, but that citizens responses to corruption in foreign aid are contingent upon the effectiveness of aid, prospects for accountability (and in particular whether donors or recipients are involved) and the scale of the corruption problems. The results thereby shows how citizens deal with the ”aidcorruption paradox”, i.e. that the need for foreign aid is often the greatest in corrupt environments and contribute towards explaining why donors continue to send foreign aid to corrupt countries, despite that corruption is increasingly seen as detrimental to economic and environmental development.

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