Human Rights Review

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 439–462 | Cite as

Competing Concerns: Balancing Human Rights and National Security in US Economic Aid Allocation

  • Evan W. SandlinEmail author


This paper theorizes that the effect of human rights violations on US economic aid is conditioned by the salience of US national security concerns. National security concerns will be more salient in situations where recipients contribute to maintaining US security and in temporal eras when the USA is perceived as being under increased external threat. As the relational and temporal salience of national security increases, any negative effect of human rights violations on US economic aid should decrease. I test this hypothesis by examining US economic aid allocations to states from 1977 to 2005. The results show that the salience of national security concerns present in the US-recipient relationship does condition the relationship between human rights violations and US economic aid. There are also significant differences between different temporal eras of US foreign aid allocation. Future work should address how conflicts between interests and values in US foreign policy are negotiated.


Human rights Economic aid US foreign aid US foreign policy National security 



The author would like to thank Gabriella Montinola, Daniel Yuch Kono, Miroslav Nincic, Zeev Maoz, and three anonymous reviewers for their guidance and comments. The author would also like to acknowledge Paul Musgrave, Cristian Cantir, Clayton Webb, Robert Jefferson Dillard, and Taylor McMichael for their helpful feedback on a previous draft of this paper, presented at the Midwestern Political Science Association Conference in Chicago, IL, on April 18, 2015.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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