There is plenty of debate over whether aid can help countries grow economically, but there is new evidence showing that it affects public opinion in a recipient country. Programs that provide targeted, sustained, effective and visible aid can lead to positive views of the donor countries.
While the money that US spends on aid programs in other countries helps people, it also serves a foreign policy goal. On one hand, the US stands to benefit from a safer, healthier and more prosperous world. On the other, it can generate good will towards the US.
“By doing good, a country can do well,” says Yusaku Horiuchi, an associate professor at Dartmouth College.
Benjamin Goldsmith of the University of Sydney, Terence Wood of the Australian National University and Horiuchi published a paper that proves how foreign aid can be a positive force for winning the hearts and minds of individuals. While the impact has been claimed for some time, they say that there was no evidence base, only anecdotes and claims by aid proponents. They undertook a comparative, cross-national perspective using data from a variety of countries to evaluate how the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched by the Bush administration in 2003, has impacted views on the US.