Who Wants to Bail Out Other Countries and Why?

In the face of growing potential for sovereign defaults, Euro-zone countries have decided to contribute massive sums to bail out the struggling EU economies. The structure of the bailouts has provoked strong domestic reactions in both donor and potential recipient countries. Yet, despite the prominent role of public opinion in the debate over national contributions to funds to bail out other countries, we know very little about the factors that underlie voters’ attitudes toward financial rescue packages.

Who wants to send this to indebted EU countries? (Source: Deutsche Bundesbank)

To learn about why individuals support or oppose bailout packages for indebted EU countries, Jens Hainmueller (MIT), Yotam Margalit (Columbia University), and I have just fielded a large-scale online survey with several embedded experiments in which we explore which factors affect individuals’ willingness to support financial bailout programs.[1] We focus on public opinion in Germany, the country shouldering the largest share, about €200 billion, of the EU’s bailout program. Our study will explore factors like the rescue package’s size, the conditions imposed on the recipient country, as well as different types of justifications that relate to economic, solidarity, and altruistic motivations. We will complete the fieldwork within the coming weeks and will post first results in this blog soon afterwards, so stay tuned…

[1] We gratefully acknowledge financial support by ETH Zurich’s Cooper Fund.


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