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International Development Barometer n°1

Published 27 August 2019 in Surveys

This first International Development Barometer published by Focus 2030 examines French attitudes and understanding of global poverty and public development aid.

From the results, which emerge from the views of a representative sample of the French population, we can distinguish four main types of respondent:

The supporter: A man or woman with a particular affiliation with the left, of high income, and evident involvement of some kind in international development issues.

The moderate: A man or woman neither pro- nor anti-international deveopment, aged between 25 and 50, with little involvement in international development issues, affiliated to centre-left or centre-right.

Le sceptic: man, close to the far-right, with absolutely no involvement in international development issues, and with lower income.

The "don’t know": Often young, often female respondents, with low income and no involvement in international development issues.

The first International Development Barometer is built from the Aid Attitudes Tracker project, an online survey carried out twice a year in France, Germany, the UK and the US by YouGov, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2013. The research is lead by Jennifer van Heerde-Hudson (UCL) and David Hudson (University of Birmingham).

Some of the main findings from the research are highlighted below.

Should we increase, decrease, or maintain development aid at its current level?

25% of French people questioned think aid should be greatly increased, or increased a little. This is the view of 42% of left-wing voters compared to 16% of right-wing voters.

Support for international solidarity goes hand in hand with youth. 44% of those under 24 thought aid should be increased, whereas just 22% of those over 50 agreed.

A desire to see aid increased seems to be correlated with left-wing political preference, youth, and high income. Those who think it should be reduced are often right- or far-right voters, older, and with lower incomes.

The influence of civic engagement!

However people might get involved with global poverty (signing a petition, joining a protest or march, making a donation, sharing an article on social media) it seems that this involvement has a very clear impact on creating a positive view on aid and development questions.

Thus 52% of those French people who say they are "very involved" in global poverty issues agree with an increase in aid, compared to 10% for those who say they are not at all involved.

Development questions and national politics - the case of the French Presidential elections

In 2017, 58% of French people thought that the presidential election was a good opportunity for candidates to state their position on levels of French development aid.

In general, political preference was the clearest indicator of a subsequent position on aid; with left-leaning voters being in favour of a discussion of development issues during the campaign, as opposed to right-wing voters who did not see this an important topic of electoral discussion.

French development aid: a lever for French influence internationally?

72% of respondents agreed, or did not disagree, that public development aid helps France’s standing internationally.

53% of those aged under 24 and 57% of left-wing voters agree, compared to 36% of those aged over 50 and 30% of right-wing voters.

What is the point of development aid?

Only 8% of people thought that aid was effective in reducing poverty, compared to 38% who said it was not.

This opinion is influenced by a lack of knowledge from the general public about the actual levels of French aid. Only 3% of French people thought that French aid was less than 1% of GDP, whereas 30% of French people thought it more than 15%. In reality, in 2017, France only gave 0.43% of GNI in aid.

Documents to download

Baromètre de la Solidarité Internationale n°1 International Development Barometer No 1