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Can Chinese aid win the hearts and minds of Africa’s local population?

Zhicheng Xu () and Yu Zhang

Economic Modelling, 2020, vol. 90, issue C, 322-330

Abstract: The vast increase in China’s aid projects has raised mounting concerns about the effectiveness of Chinese aid. To assess Chinese development assistance in Africa from the perspective of local residents’ attitude toward Chinese projects, we geographically match Chinese aid projects in Africa from 2000 to 2012 to the respondents of the Afrobarometer survey. By comparing the attitudes toward China reported by individuals who live close to ongoing Chinese projects at the time of the interview to those of individuals who live near sites where Chinese projects will be implemented in the future, this study establishes that the presence of Chinese projects induces a positive view of Chinese aid within the local population. Our mechanism analysis shows that people from all statuses can benefit from economic infrastructure projects, while the advantaged tend to have a better view of Chinese aid. In contrast, social infrastructure aid inspires a more positive view among disadvantaged people. We thus demonstrate that aid can have a differential impact on local attitudes, depending on aid types and statuses of recipients.

Keywords: Chinese aid; Africa; Aid effectiveness; Economic infrastructure; Social infrastructure (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D6 F35 O1 O55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2019.12.017

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