voters get what they want (when they pay attention): human rights, policy benefits, and foreign aid

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Authors Tobias Heinrich, Yoshiharu Kobayashi, Leah Long
Journal/Conference Name INTERNATIONAL STUDIES QUARTERLY
Paper Category
Paper Abstract How do the human rights practices abroad affect decisions about the allocation of foreign aid? This article provides a new approach to this long-standing question. We bring donor government, donor citizens, and recipients’ attributes together in a single analytical framework. We argue that donor citizens are more self-serving than previously assumed; they do not wholeheartedly support their government punishing human rights abusers when those states provide important policy benefits. When donor governments believe that their citizens will hold them accountable for their policy choices, they make foreign aid decisions that mirror citizens’ self-serving policy preferences. Thus, they avoid punishing repressive regimes that are the sources of valuable benefits. Our experimental and observational results provide support for our claims. Overall, our findings suggest that aid donors selectively punish human rights violators with aid cuts, but their variegated treatment of human rights violators largely stems from the self-serving policy preferences of their voters.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R
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