Is foreign aid a pure public good for donor country citizens?

Travis Wiseman, Andrew Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


If donor country citizens are altruistic, their support for foreign aid will be instrumental and the (perceived) effects of a donor’s aid can be enjoyed non-rivalrously by citizens of all countries. Alternatively, donor country citizens may achieve a “warm-glow” from their own contributions to the poor, in which case “own” or “own country” level donations, rather than world donations are the relevant measure. If this is true then, all else equal, we expect smaller countries to have higher per capita aid provisions. This could account for why the small Nordic countries are more generous with foreign aid than a large country like the US. Based on a panel of 27 development assistance committee countries covering the 1985–2005 period. We provide evidence that in large part supports the latter representation of voter interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-433
Number of pages13
JournalConstitutional Political Economy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 30 2015


  • Development assistance
  • Expressive voting
  • Foreign aid
  • Impure altruism
  • Median voter theory
  • Non-rivalrous goods
  • Public economics
  • Public goods
  • Warm-glow


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