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Date: 05.11.2010 A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep Understanding Public Support for Aid in the UK Spencer Henson Johanna Lindstrom.

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Presentation on theme: "Date: 05.11.2010 A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep Understanding Public Support for Aid in the UK Spencer Henson Johanna Lindstrom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Date: A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep Understanding Public Support for Aid in the UK Spencer Henson Johanna Lindstrom

2 Structure Background What do we know about public attitudes towards aid in the UK? Modelling public support for aid in the UK: –Data –Explanatory variables –Results Conclusions

3 Background Donors facing challenges in meeting international commitments on aid spending Different schools of thought about drivers of aid DFID pursued active strategy of public engagement Great deal of interest in public attitudes more widely UK relatively data rich…. ….but data have been criticised Have hints of what drives support for aid Lack of in-depth analysis…. ….means largely trying to engage in the dark

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

5 Level of agreement with the UK governments 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: IDS 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

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

10 But….knowing nothing about development does not stop people having elaborate views! Im sure much of the charity was well intentioned and even some of the government aid. The problem is it hasnt 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 dont 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 hell eat for a day, give a man a bag of seed and hell eat every day. Complete rubbish. Most of the places with real food poverty are subject to drought or floods. Thats 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)

11 But many gaps in our knowledge….. What factors drive support for aid? How much influence do particular factors have? How do these various factors interact with one another? How do we move away from the hypothetical? Makes effective engagement difficult

12 Why are there so many gaps….? Very limited academic literature…. ….almost no academic literature within UK Regular polling surveys to date: –DFID Tracking survey –Ad hoc surveys for NGOs Only cursory analysis of polling data

13 Modelling public support for aid in the UK Aims to identify most important drivers of support for aid in the UK Uses data from UK Public Opinion Monitor: –Longitudinal panel –Main data collection July 2010 (n=1,342) Binary probit model relating support for aid spending to: –Socio-demographic characteristics –Attitudes Support for aid spending framed in broader terms of changes in government expenditure across 15 areas in context of efforts to address budget deficit

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

15 Support for changes in expenditure on aid to developing countries in order to address the budget deficit (July 2010)

16 Explanatory variables…. Socio-demographic factors: –Gender –Age –Education –Ethnicity –Having children –Practicing religious faith Knowledge: –Causes of poverty in developing countries –UK aid to developing countries Attitudinal factors: –Global citizen world view –Moral obligation –Self-interest : UK benefit UK leadership Personal impacts –Wastage –Corruption –Priority to domestic poverty

17 Determinants of support for cutting aid spending as part of measures to address budget deficit Explanatory VariableMarginal Probability Demographic Factors Aged 18 to 24 years (relative to Aged 55+)-20.6% Aged 25 to 34 years (relative to Aged 55+)-23.4% Aged 45 to 54 years (relative to Aged 55+)-8.7% Attitudes Moral duty to help poor in developing countries-13.3% Benefits to UK-4.0% Feel good factor-4.3% UK leadership-5.8% Most aid wasted5.0% Priority to domestic poverty12.2%

18 Agreement with Most aid given by the UK to developing countries is wasted by support for cuts in aid spending

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

20 Conclusions Support for aid spending predominantly riven by attitudinal factors Socio-demographics play a minor role Key trade-off between moral obligation and prioritising domestic poverty Perceptions of corruption not a significant factors Perceptions of aid wastage a secondary driver of support for aid spending Need for more research…. …. UK Public Opinion Monitor can play a key role

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