Journal Article

Foreign Aid, Foreign Policy, and Domestic Government Legitimacy: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh

Date Published

Oct 27, 2017


Simone Dietrich, Minhaj Mahmud, Matthew S. Winters


The Journal of Politics


Dietrich, S., Mahmud, M., & Winters, M. S. (2018). Foreign Aid, Foreign Policy, and Domestic Government Legitimacy: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh. The Journal of Politics, 80(1), 133-148. doi:10.1086/694235

Note: A version of this article was previously published as an AidData Working Paper.


Foreign aid donors make themselves visible as the funders of development projects to improve citizen attitudes abroad. Do target populations receive these political communications in the intended fashion, and does the information succeed in changing attitudes? Despite the widespread use of various mechanisms to communicate information about foreign funding, little evidence exists about their effectiveness. We embed an informational experiment about a US-funded health project in a nationwide survey in Bangladesh. Although we find only limited recognition of the USAID brand, explicit information about US funding slightly improves general perceptions of the United States; it does not, however, change respondent's opinions on substantive foreign policy issues. We also find that information increases confidence in local authorities. While our results suggest that information about foreign donors can effect attitudinal change, they also suggest that current mechanisms for information transmission might not be sufficient to do so.

Featured Authors

Simone Dietrich

Simone Dietrich

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Geneva in Switzerland

Matthew Winters

Matthew Winters

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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