Think Global, Act Local? Domestic Constraints on Foreign Aid.

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Some democratic government prefer a more ambitious and generous development policy than others. These governments hold stronger preferences for realizing the sustainable development goals defined by the UN, including the eradication of poverty, education, human rights and the protection of the environment in developing countries. Yet the extent to which democratic governments can realize their preferred development policies varies significantly. In this paper, we analyze the discrepancies between governments’ development-policy preferences and the level of official development assistance (ODA).
On the theoretical side, we analyze government’s discretion to increase the level of ODA. Specifically, we argue that unified governments that face weak institutional constraints find it easier to transfer their ambitious development-policy preferences into higher levels of ODA. On the empirical side, we study the level of ODA in 33 OECD countries over a period of 23 years. Analyzing speeches at the UN General Assembly, we apply an innovative operationalization of governments’ concern for global development. Our findings support the argument that government’s discretion in domestic politics facilitates an increase of ODA.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • United Nation (UN)
  • foreign aid


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