Kimberly Howe and colleagues review the effects of foreign aid on rebel governance

May 2019

Allison Carnegie, Kimberly Howe, Adam Lichtenheld, and Dipali Mukhopadhyay published “The Effects of Foreign Aid on Rebel Governance: Evidence from a Large-Scale U.S. Aid Program in Syria” with AidData in May 2019.

The authors argue that aid can improve public perceptions of governing institutions during civil wars when those institutions arise from popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes. To evaluate the theory, they analyze new perceptions-based data that was collected from residents of 27 opposition-held communities inside Syria from 2014 to 2016. They find a positive statistical relationship between aid and perceptions of local institutions, but only when the populace does not believe the institutions were imposed by an outside actor. These results are further supported by placebo tests and a case study of Raqqa City, in which the authors show that aid boosted citizens’ views of the local councils until ISIS took over.

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