Accepted Paper:

Populist power and development aid: cross-country evidence  


Ivica Petrikova (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses quantitative analysis to examine if there is a relationship between populist parties in power in Western countries and the countries' provision of development aid - in amount, in the type of recipient, and in preferred aid sectors.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past two decades, populist parties, some on the left but mostly on the right, have increasingly gained power in parliaments and/or governments of most Western countries. One of the key distinguishing characteristics of populism is its perceived division of society into 'us' (populist leader and her/his supporters) and 'them' (everyone else). Because the provision of development aid is in theory driven by the belief in the equal value of life everywhere, populism and the provision of development assistance are inimical - at least in theory. The reality, in which development aid was always provided at least partially out of donors' national interest, is likely more complex.

This article tests the relationship between populist power and the provision of development aid through a quantitative examination of OECD donors' aid flows between 2000 and 2018, drawing on data sets of populism by Eiermann et al. (2017) and Kyle and Gultchin (2018) and aid data from Development Assistance Committee's QWIDS database. The initial hypothesis to be tested is whether a higher proportion of power held by populist parties translates into a reduction in the provision of development assistance. Further, I will examine if populist parties in power have an effect on which developing countries and which aid sectors receive most development assistance.

Panel G1
The rise of populism and development cooperation