Foreign aid is an unearned resource that interrupts the fiscal contract between voters and politicians. Recent literature in political science has attributed the electoral consequences of foreign aid to credit claiming by politicians (Cruz and Schneider 2017) or to the ability of politicians to allocate these funds strategically (Briggs 2012; Jablonski 2014). However, both these mechanisms assume that voters lack information about aid attributability. and politicians’ programmatic efforts; better informed voters would not reward politicians for foreign aid. However, in countries with low tax-to-GDP ratios and high aid dependency, voters are fraught between choosing leaders who are better situated at securing foreign aid and leaders who are more likely to uphold national pride by rejecting foreign aid. In a survey experiment conducted amongst Pakistani undergraduate students, I find that voters are more likely to choose candidates with characteristics that signal their ability to secure foreign aid funding. I also find that voters are more likely to opt for public goods that provide them immediate benefits in the form of cash handouts. I suggest that one reason why better education and previous work in international organizations improves electability is because projects financed through foreign aid are perceived as more credible. This suggests that voters consciously account for the presence of foreign aid while making voting decisions and do not vote for politicians on the basis of misinformation.
Ms. Syeda Shahbano Ijaz
Ms. Syeda ShahBano Ijaz did her BSc. in Economics from LUMS in 2009, after which she attended Oxford University for a MSc. in Economics for Development as a Commonwealth Scholar and New York University for an MA in Politics as a MacCracken Fellow. She has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and has also been a USIP Junior Peace Fellow. Currently, she is a third year Ph.D. student in Political Science at University of California - San Diego. Her research interests straddle the study of foreign aid and comparative political development, with a focus on South Asia. Her dissertation seeks to understand governance structures in settings where the conventional fiscal contract does not hold; she is particularly interested in studying foreign aid and governance in refugee camps and slums in Pakistan and Bangladesh