The Effects of Chinese Aid on State Legitimacy in Africa: Cross-National and Sub-National Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games
Jul 23, 2018
Robert A. Blair, Philip Roessler
Blair, Robert A., and Philip Roessler. 2018. The Effects of Chinese Aid on State Legitimacy in Africa: Cross-National and Sub-National Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games. AidData Working Paper #59. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in the World Politics.
What are the effects of Chinese aid on the legitimacy of African states? China has dramatically increased the scope of its aid to Africa in recent years, igniting much debate among scholars and policymakers, some of whom characterize China as a “rogue donor” that is rupturing the social contract between citizens and recipient states. We test this proposition by combining within-country analysis of original surveys, survey experiments, and behavioral games in Liberia with cross-country analysis of AidData and Afrobarometer data on 38 African countries. We find little evidence indicating that exposure to Chinese aid has diminished Africans’ perceptions of government or reduced tax compliance or morale, both important indicators of state legitimacy. Our results are consistent across settings, levels of analysis, and measurement and identification strategies, belying the conventional wisdom that China’s increasing economic engagement imperils good governance or estranges citizens from recipient African states.
Funding: This research is funded by the Institute of International Education (IIE), under the Democracy Fellows and Grants Program (AID-OAA-A-12-00039), funded by USAID’s Center of Excellence in Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center).
Geocoded China Data
AidData's Chinese Official Finance to Africa Dataset, 2000-2012, Version 1.1.1
This is a sub-nationally georeferenced dataset of Chinese official finance activities that spans 50 African countries over the 2000-2012 period. It includes 1,952 Chinese development finance projects across 3,545 physical locations.
Geocoded Afrobarometer Surveys
Geocoded Afrobarometer Data, Version 1.0
This subnationally geocoded dataset, available via request from Afrobarometer, covers Rounds One through Six of Afrobarometer's surveys in 37 African countries between 1999 and 2015. It provides hyperlocal, time-varying information about the priorities, preferences, experiences, and opinions of more than 200,000 African citizens in 28,000 localities.