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What are the reasons for French resistance to development aid spending?

Published 27 August 2019 in Surveys

International aid is "wasted"

The majority of French people have a bad opinion on French development aid. 56% think it is wasted, which is a common conception about development aid.

Only 10% seem confident that ODA is used effectively.

Aid just goes to line the pockets of corrupt leaders

Corruption is a major reason for French concern about development aid.

65% say aid does not achieve its purpose because it ends up instead in the pockets of corrupt leaders of developing countries.

This majority opinion shows a commonly-held view of a poor reputation of politicians in developing countries. In focus groups held in parallel to the survey in France, we frequently see assumptions of poverty being the result of corrupt political regimes in developing countries.


41% of French people think that development aid provided to the poorest countries will make them dependent on handouts from richer countries.

This result is an echo of results seen when French people are asked about development policy priorities, since a majority also believe in the importance of improving poor countries’ economic development, or ideally, a development programme which would help poor countries "once and for all".

Aid is not therefore criticised here as a mechanism of international solidarity, but rather for its supposed secondary effects.

Global poverty: an endless problem?

For half of French people, population growth in poor countries renders aid pointless. This is not therefore disapproval of aid, rather of the inability to resolve global poverty through aid given its primary causes (in this case, too-rapid population growth).

For 50% of French people, therefore, aid cannot help given the rapidity and scale of growth in populations and the number of people that need or will need help. This kind of answer demonstrates a sort of resignation by French people to a problem which rich countries simply cannot solve.

This data comes from our survey conducted by the YouGov Institute and piloted by the research team at University College London and the University of Birmingham as part of the project Aid Attitudes Tracker which measures the evolution of opinions and behaviors on issues of international solidarity in four countries.

Further reading

Retrouvez la méthodologie du projet Aid Attitudes Tracker

Documents to download

Retrouvez la méthodologie du projet Aid Attitudes Tracker