Shifting Americans’ Opinions On Foreign Aid Possible With Knowledge Of How Much U.S. Actually Spends Relative To Other Outlays

Washington Post: Americans love to hate foreign aid, but the right argument makes them like it a lot more
Reuben Hurst, PhD candidate at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business; Darren Hawkins, professor of political science at Brigham Young University; and Taylor Tidwell, PhD candidate at the University of Kansas

“…[D]espite difficulties in establishing a causal relationship between public sentiment and aid spending, some scholarship suggests that if Americans warmed up to the idea of aid, the United States would give more of it — or at least resist the sort of deep cuts proposed in the latest federal budget. … Given these high stakes, we set out to test which arguments prove most effective in swaying U.S. opinions on aid. We looked at academic debates as well as popular views of U.S. aid spending and identified commonly invoked arguments by those who oppose and champion foreign aid. … On this particular issue, though, there seems a clear prescription: If you want to get Americans to support government spending on foreign aid, tell them how little the government currently spends” (5/4).

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