Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 421–433 | Cite as

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

  • Travis WisemanEmail author
  • Andrew Young
Original Paper


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.


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

JEL Classification

H41 F35 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Finance and EconomicsMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.College of Business and EconomicsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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