In 2014, the United States spent 0.19% of GNI on official foreign assistance, while private giving amounted to 0.13% of GNI. Whereas in Sweden, official giving was 1.1% and private giving was 0.003%. Most scholarship suggests that this variation demonstrates a general public preference for high government spending in Sweden versus a preference for a private solution in the United States. I challenge this claim, and argue that the spending patterns are only one expression of a deeper variation on the relationship between public and private foreign assistance. In all donor countries the public and private sectors of foreign aid are crucially linked; however, the form of the linkages – such as funding levels and autonomy of action – varies widely. For example, in Sweden, relief and development NGOs although dependent on the government for funds, have a surprisingly autonomous role. In Britain, the public and private aid sectors operate largely independently from each other, addressing different needs. And in the United States, despite comparatively large private funding, NGOs often have restricted autonomy and are highly dependent on official policy. This dissertation makes two key contributions: it theorizes the relationship between the public and private sectors of foreign assistance as a regime of international giving, and it explains the variation we observe on it as grounded in the historical development of domestic foreign aid institutions. I argue that domestic norms and beliefs about the role of charity at the time that countries created their official foreign aid institutions in the wake of World War II have deeply shaped their contemporary foreign aid regimes. These norms about the role of charity were institutionalized in a number of funding and regulatory institutions that defined how the public and private sectors of foreign assistance worked with each other.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Jane Gingrich. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 296 pages.
Regimes of International Giving: The Politics of Public and Private Foreign Assistance in the United States, Britain, and Sweden.
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