Turning a Blind Eye? The Impact of Corruption on Aid Fatigue

Why do donors continue to send foreign aid to corrupt countries, despite that corruption is increas-ingly seen as detrimental to economic and environmental development? This study unpacks the complex relationship between corruption and aid fatigue and suggests that while corruption reduces support for foreign aid, reactions to corruption in aid depend on both the circumstances under which corruption occurs and prospects for accountability. Building on scenario-based experiments, the results show that the end results of aid, the scale and the perceived social normality of corrup-tion influences the effect of corruption on aid fatigue. They also show that corruption generates specific aid fatigue (directed towards individual projects or actors) rather than support for general-ized (across-the-board cuts) in aid levels. This contributes towards explaining why previous studies have failed to find a link between corruption and aid fatigue and how citizens deal with the “aid-corruption paradox”, i.e. that the need for foreign aid is often the greatest in corrupt environments.