July, 2013

The Internet, Emotional Contagion, and Foreign Aid

  • Kathleen Sheehan

    Assistant Professor of Economics, Creighton University
  • Andrew T. Young

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We examine the empirical relationship between Internet subscriptions and foreign aid flows for 22 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members for a 15 year time period employing the median voter model. We find that Internet use is positively related to the amount of foreign aid that donor nations give. This relationship is particularly robust for humanitarian aid. We hypothesize that Internet use is likely making aid giving more altruistic because Internet use increases the empathy people in donor nations feel for people in recipient nations. As Internet use increases in donor nations, the potential for emotional contagion to develop increases and the potential for the decisive voter to demand for an increase in humanitarian aid increases.

Find this paper at SSRN.