The Ideational Effects of Foreign Aid: Accounting for Increasing Gender Egalitarian Beliefs in Malawi

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jeffrey SWINDLE, University of Michigan, USA
Ideational change is an important outcome for improving the lives of women. Beliefs about gender have shifted toward more egalitarian views in the past few decades across most sub-Saharan African countries. What predicts gender egalitarian views and what accounts for this rapid cultural shift? I investigate the effects of foreign aid projects conducted in Malawi that are specifically aimed at changing gender dynamics. My outcomes of interest are: (1) Malawians’ beliefs about when a wife is justified in refusing sex from their husband; and (2) Malawians’ beliefs about whether a wife is justified in asking their husband to use a condom if he has a STD. Linking district level foreign aid data with multiple survey-waves from the Demographic and Health Surveys (2000, 2004, and 2010), I use multilevel models to test for cultural effects of aid. I find that Women in Development aid is positively associated with both gender egalitarian beliefs measured, and that Population Policy aid and Family Planning aid has a positive influence on one belief but not the other. My results show that foreign aid does exert significant influence on Malawians’ beliefs about gender, and, more broadly, that foreign aid has ideational consequences, whether or not they are intended.