from International Institutions and Global Governance Program

World Opinion on Development and Humanitarian Aid

August 12, 2009

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

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Foreign Aid

Polls and Public Opinion

This page is part of Public Opinion on Global Issues. Download this chapter (PDF) or read more about U.S. opinion on development and humanitarian aid.

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Economic Development and Humanitarian Aid

Publics in developed countries express support for giving development assistance to poor countries. Globally, there is a widespread consensus that developed countries have a moral responsibility to work to reduce hunger and severe poverty. There is also a consensus that helping poor countries develop serves the long-term interests of wealthy countries, such as developing trade partners and achieving global stability. In addition, development aid is seen as furthering democracy and, for a more modest number of respondents, as a way to fight terrorism. Besides financial aid, large majorities of European and U.S. respondents express a willingness to contribute troops for humanitarian operations, including providing assistance to victims of war and famine. Download full chapter (PDF).

Aid Levels and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

There is a strong global consensus that wealthy nations are not doing enough to help poorer nations. Europeans strongly support the view that the European Union should spend more on development aid. At the same time, less than a majority of Europeans favor increasing their taxes to increase aid or say that their own national government should increase its spending. However, when increased spending is placed in the context of a multilateral effort—specifically the Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger and severe poverty in half —large majorities in the OECD countries say that they would be willing to substantially increase their spending if others did the same. Globally, public awareness of the MDGs remains low. Download full chapter (PDF).

Role of Multilateral Institutions and Aid to Developing Countries

There is strong support for multilateral institutions taking the lead in setting aid policies, delivering development assistance, and dealing with refugees. Download full chapter (PDF).

Linking Aid to Recipient Country Behavior

Large majorities of Europeans and Americans favor linking the level of aid given to poor countries to a variety of conditions, including the recipient country’s efforts to fight poverty, corruption, and terrorism, and to promote democracy. Large majorities favor giving aid to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gases as part of an agreement wherein they commit to limit the growth of their emissions. Download full chapter (PDF).

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Foreign Aid

Polls and Public Opinion


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