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Department of Political Science

Christiansen, Heinrich and Peterson study local reactions to U.S. democracy promotion

William Christiansen, Tobias Heinrich, and Timothy Peterson have an article forthcoming in International Interactions, "Foreign policy begins at home: the local origin of support for democracy promotion." Using a survey experiment, the authors consider how local effects of foreign policy tools intended for democracy promotion, particularly aid and sanctions, affect public approval. They find evidence that a positive local impact increases support for and reduces opposition to democracy aid amid nascent democratization, while a negative local impact reduces indifference and increases opposition to economic sanctions in the case of democratic backsliding. This article contributes to the understanding of why individuals decide to support particular foreign policy objectives, highlighting the degree to which individual assessments follow from the location of domestic economic benefits and costs. It also sheds light on recent discussions of “'tied" foreign aid where donors stipulate that aid be spent on contractors located in the donor country. This study is particularly relevant considering growing attention to the domestic benefits of foreign involvement more generally.

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