Race, Paternalism, and Foreign Aid: Evidence from U.S. Public Opinion

Citation:

Baker A. Race, Paternalism, and Foreign Aid: Evidence from U.S. Public Opinion. American Political Science Review [Internet]. 2015;109 (1).

Abstract:

Virtually all previous studies of domestic economic redistribution find white Americans to be less enthusiastic about welfare for black recipients than for white recipients. When it comes to foreign aid and international redistribution across racial lines, I argue that prejudice manifests not in an uncharitable, resentful way but in a paternalistic way because intergroup contact is minimal and because of how the media portray black foreigners. Using two survey experiments, I show that white Americans are more favorable toward aid when cued to think of foreign poor of African descent than when cued to think of those of East European descent. This relationship is due not to the greater perceived need of black foreigners but to an underlying racial paternalism that sees them as lacking in human agency. The findings confirm accusations of aid skeptics and hold implications for understanding the roots of paternalistic practices in the foreign aid regime.

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Last updated on 11/19/2014