Dueling Aid Regimes: A Conjoint Survey Experiment on Elites’ Development Finance Preferences in 141 Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Jul 25, 2022
Robert A. Blair, Samantha Custer, Philip Roessler
Blair, R., Custer, S., and Roessler, P. (2022). Dueling Aid Regimes: A Conjoint Survey Experiment on Elites’ Development Finance Preferences in 141 Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Working Paper #119. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
Why do elites in low- and middle-income countries (LICs and MICs) prefer some foreign aid projects and partners over others? We report results from a conjoint survey experiment administered to 3,641 elites from 141 LICs and MICs. The experiment elicits the preferences of policymakers and practitioners who are uniquely close to the debates that shape their countries’ development policies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we find that elites favor larger over smaller projects, grants over loans, and projects dedicated to building transportation infrastructure over those focused on strengthening civil society or tax collection capacity. But elites also prefer projects with transparent terms, good governance conditionalities, and labor, corruption, or environmental regulations. These preferences hold even among respondents who might be expected to favor more “no-strings-attached” approaches to aid. Our findings have important implications for research on the “aid curse” and on policymaker preferences over rival development partners in an increasingly competitive aid marketplace.