The impact of post-disaster assistance on government perception: Evidence from Fiji

Abstract:

There is a sizable and rapidly expanding literature that explores the impact of post-disaster aid on government support. While some scholars have found that government assistance after a disaster benefits the incumbent, others have shown that the effects of aid on government support are imperceptible or even negative. This article contributes to this unsettled debate by testing the effect of providing government post-disaster assistance on citizen’s perceptions of the government. Our regression discontinuity design of households affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji (2016), shows that the type of assistance provided may be an important variable to understand the effects of aid on government support. Fijians receiving a post-disaster cash transfer (CT) are up to 20 percent more likely to be “very satisfied” with the government. The probability further increases if the post-disaster CT is provided along with in-kind food/water benefits or with food/housing vouchers but is not affected if citizens are also encouraged to use their own pension savings to cover for the disaster. This paper provides evidence in favor of a “attentive” citizen, capable of identifying government responses quantitatively and qualitatively.

Last updated on 04/02/2018