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The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 313–341 | Cite as

The choice for multilateralism: Foreign aid and American foreign policy

  • Helen V. MilnerEmail author
  • Dustin Tingley
Article

Abstract

Why do governments choose multilateralism? We examine a principal-agent model in which states trade some control over the policy for greater burden sharing. The theory generates observable hypotheses regarding the reasons for and the patterns of support and opposition to multilateralism. To focus our study, we analyze support for bilateral and multilateral foreign aid giving in the US. Using new survey data, we provide evidence about the correlates of public and elite support for multilateral engagement. We find weak support for multilateralism and deep partisan divisions. Reflecting elite discourse, public opinion divides over two competing rationales—burden sharing and control—when faced with the choice between multilateral and bilateral aid channels. As domestic groups’ preferences over aid policy diverge from those of the multilateral institution, maintaining control over aid policy becomes more salient and support for multilateralism falls.

Keywords

International institutions Multilateralism Domestic politics Public opinion Foreign aid 

JEL

F35 F55 F59 

Supplementary material

11558_2012_9153_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (49 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 48 kb)
11558_2012_9153_MOESM2_ESM.zip (140 kb)
ESM 2 (ZIP 140 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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