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Date: 02.11.2010 The State of Public Engagement with Global Issues: International Development Spencer Henson.

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Presentation on theme: "Date: 02.11.2010 The State of Public Engagement with Global Issues: International Development Spencer Henson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Date: The State of Public Engagement with Global Issues: International Development Spencer Henson

2 Structure Background What do we know about public attitudes towards development in the UK? Recent work at IDS The opportunities and challenges….

3 Background Concerns that public support for aid is declining over time Evidence that most support is rather ‘shallow’ Limited understanding of what drives public beliefs and attitudes….. ….which creates challenges for engagement efforts

4 What do we know about public attitudes towards development in the UK? Broad-based support for UK’s aid programme…. ….but seems to be slipping Low levels of saliency Limited knowledge Poverty seen as being caused from ‘within’ Widespread perceptions of corruption and wastage

5 Level of agreement with the UK government’s commitment to increase its spending on overseas aid to poor countries Source: COI/TNS ( )

6 Proportion of population ‘very concerned’ about level of poverty in poor countries Source: ONS ( ); COI/TNS ( )

7 Mean scores for cause of poverty scales Source: Analysis of data from TNS (2009; 2010)

8 Level of agreement with statement “The corruption in poor country governments makes it pointless donating money to help reduce poverty” Source: TNS (2009; 2010)

9 Estimated expenditure on aid as proportion of government expenditure (2008) Actual expenditure = 1.1% Source: Action Aid UK (2006)

10 But….knowing nothing about development does not stop people having elaborate views! “I’m sure much of the charity was well intentioned and even some of the government aid. The problem is it hasn’t worked. Why? Much of the money has gone into the pockets of dictators, corrupt politicians and into buying arms. The remainder came straight back to the government giving it, in the form of contracts. It seems standard practice to give aid to a country only if they spend most of it on things they don’t want, made by companies in the country giving the aid. The little that got through, possibly by mistake, was wasted on projects that seemed designed not to work. An example of this is the ‘give the man a bag of flour and he’ll eat for a day, give a man a bag of seed and he’ll eat every day’. Complete rubbish. Most of the places with real food poverty are subject to drought or floods. That’s why they have no food. Give a man a bag of seed and watch it die in the field. The most staggering example of this wrong thinking is goats for Africa. Because of cattle grazing and drought there is no grass, so what do they do, buy them a goat and let it eat the trees and bushes. The trees and bushes then die and with nothing to hold it together the soil blows away. Result desert.” (G4304) Source: Henson et al. (2010)

11 Support for changes in expenditure on government services in context of budget deficit (June 2010)

12 Drivers of support for cutting aid spending as part of measures to address budget deficit Primary drivers: –Age (+) –Moral impetus to help poor in developing countries (+) –Priority to poor at home (-) Secondary drivers: –UK benefits from reduced poverty in developing countries (+) –‘Feel good’ from knowing the UK is helping (+) –UK should lead the global fight against poverty (+) –Most aid is wasted (-)

13 The opportunities and challenges….. People perceive global interdependencies Low levels of saliency regarding international development…. ….makes engagement difficult Weak policy feedbacks…. ….with void filled by the media Know little about the underlying values…. ….and links to support for aid

14 Extent to which the life of people in the UK is considered to be dependent on what happens in other parts of the world (May 2010)

15 Nature of global interdependencies (May 2010)

16 The opportunities and challenges….. People perceive global interdependencies Low levels of saliency regarding international development…. ….makes engagement difficult Weak policy feedbacks…. ….with void filled by the media Know little about the underlying values…. ….and links to support for aid

17 Role of policy feedbacks Proximate Distant Low Visibility High Visibility Aid Voluntary Donations

18 The opportunities and challenges….. People perceive global interdependencies Low levels of saliency regarding international development…. ….makes engagement difficult Weak policy feedbacks…. ….with void filled by the media Know little about the underlying values…. ….and links to support for aid


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