Self-Interest, group interest, and values : the determinants of mass attitudes towards foreign aid in donor countries
- Why do individuals in donor countries support foreign aid? My dissertation examines three explanatory factors drawn from the literature on support for the welfare state: self-interest, group interest, and values. Chapter 2, Material Interests: The Self and the Nation, investigates the self-interest hypothesis. Although a considerable amount of past research focuses on the extent to which self-interest shapes attitudes towards foreign economic policies, few have investigated whether self-interest shapes opinion towards foreign aid. Moreover, the few studies on self-interest and foreign aid have provided mixed evidence in support of the relationship. These mixed findings, however, are largely the result of including objective proxies for self-interest in existing models of public opinion about foreign aid rather than building theory about the role of self-interest in foreign aid attitude formation. This study fills that gap in the literature and argues that the costs and benefits of foreign aid are neither clear nor salient to individuals in donor countries leading few individuals to believe that foreign aid affects their economic standing. By contrast, I argue that the costs and benefits of foreign aid to the nation are made clearer and more salient by elites, leading national interests to be a stronger predictor of attitudes towards foreign aid. I test these arguments using original surveys fielded in the United States and United Kingdom. I provide both observational and experimental evidence in support of the theory. In Chapter 3, Transnational Ties and Group Interests, I examine the role of group interest through a study of the effects of transnational ties on individual support for foreign aid. Although globalization and international migration have led more people than ever to have personal connections that cross national borders, we know little about how these personal connections affect attitudes towards foreign aid. In this study, I argue that transnational ties increase support for foreign aid via two possible mechanisms: group interests and cosmopolitanism. I test this theory using an original survey experiment embedded in a national survey of 1,000 Latino Americans. I find that Latinos vary significantly in the strength of their foreign ties and the strength of these ties is strongly correlated with support for U.S. foreign aid. The findings from the experiment, which varies the location of a U.S. foreign aid program, provides evidence in support of the cosmopolitan mechanism: Latinos with transnational ties equally support aid to Africa and aid to Latin America. A test of the generalizability of the findings to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States and United Kingdom reveal however that group interests may be a more powerful mechanism outside of the Latino American community. This study introduces an important new explanatory variable into the study of international redistribution and provides insight into the emerging link between international migration and foreign aid. Finally, Chapter 4, Values at the Water's Edge, looks at how values shape attitudes towards foreign aid. Prior research on public opinion about foreign aid points to the importance of values related to the welfare state such as economic ideology. Scholars argue that liberals, who support redistribution at home, also support redistribution abroad in the form of foreign aid. Yet, the conditions under which individuals apply values learned in the domestic political context to issues of foreign policy remain undertheorized. In this chapter, I argue that ideology interacts with foreign policy orientation -- individuals' placement along the internationalist/isolationist spectrum -- to shape mass attitudes towards foreign aid. Using data from public opinion surveys fielded in three different donor countries -- the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway -- I show that ideology is strongly associated with support for foreign aid among internationalists, but has little effect on isolationists' foreign aid preferences. The interaction also reveals a split among liberals: Liberal internationalists strongly favor foreign aid, but liberal isolationists oppose it. These findings help explain why American and British support for foreign aid is lower than support in countries like Norway, why domestic welfare programs in some countries are more popular than foreign aid, and why some countries have generous welfare states but are foreign aid laggards. In summary, this dissertation offers new theory and data to advance our understanding of why individuals in donor countries support foreign aid. The final chapter distills these theoretical contributions and findings, and offers reflections on steps for future research.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
|Schultz, Kenneth A
|Sniderman, Paul M
|Schultz, Kenneth A
|Sniderman, Paul M
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Lauren Rochelle Prather
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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