Populism and foreign aid
Yoshiharu Kobayashi (University of Leeds)
Edward Lawson (University of South Carolina)
Paper short abstract:
This article examines the link between populism and foreign aid by unpacking populism into its core ideas and examining how populism and nativism interact and combine to influence aid attitudes and spending. Our arguments are supported by quantitative analyses of attitudes and aid spending.
Paper long abstract:
Populism is an ideology consisting of multiple core ideas but also maintaining a symbiotic relationship with other distinct beliefs like nativism. This article introduces a useful way to think about populism to the foreign policy literature by unpacking these "thin" components of populism and examining each in relation to one category of policy, foreign aid. We argue that one component of populism---anti-elitism---and nativist sentiments have strong negative effects on individual attitudes toward foreign aid. Evidence from an original survey supports this argument, while the effects of other components are weaker. Analysis of donors' aid spending also indicates greater anti-elitism and nativism in the population reduce the level of aid. These findings confirm that our decomposition approach is useful to understanding populism and foreign policy and that nativist anti-elitism influences aid attitudes and spending, rather than populism per se.
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