A matter of trust: Public support for country ownership over aid

Kentaro Hirose, Gabriella R. Montinola, Matthew S. Winters, Masaru Kohno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International donors emphasize greater recipient-country ownership in the delivery of foreign assistance because it ostensibly promotes the efficient use of resources and strengthens recipient-country administrative capacity. The preferences of citizens in developing countries, however, are not well understood on this matter. Do they prefer that their own governments control foreign aid resources, or are there conditions under which they instead prefer that donors maintain control over how aid is implemented? We explore these questions through parallel survey experiments in Myanmar, Nepal, and Indonesia. Our experimental vignettes include two informational treatments: one about who implements aid (i.e., the donor or the recipient government) and the other about the trustworthiness of the foreign donor. The trust-in-donor treatment, on average, increases levels of support for aid in all three countries. In contrast, we observe heterogenous average treatment effects regarding aid control: control of aid by the donor rather than the government reduces levels of support in Indonesia and Myanmar, whereas it increases support levels in Nepal. We show how the cross-country variation in ATEs originates in consistent individual-level variation in reactions to aid control that is more shaped by respondents’ trust in their own government than their trust in the donor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalReview of International Organizations
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Asia
  • Foreign aid
  • International development
  • Public opinion
  • Survey experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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