Does the Covid-19 Pandemic Threaten Global Solidarity? Evidence from Germany

Sebastian Schneider, Jens Eger, Martin Bruder, Jörg Faust, Lothar H. Wieler.

World Development Volume 140. April 2021.


The global COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges to the economy, politics and public health systems of developed and developing countries alike. However, the latter are less well placed to cope with adverse effects. In particular, important advances towards sustainable development might be reversed. Tackling the pandemic and its effects therefore requires global cooperation as well as solidarity in the form of development assistance. Yet, support for development assistance among donor publics might be dampened by individual health-related and economic worries as well as decreasing trust in government during the pandemic. Against this backdrop, we investigate the possible effect of pandemic-induced worries on public support for development assistance as well as the moderating role of moral considerations and trust in government. Drawing on literature on aid attitudes, and using survey data for Germany provided by the COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring (COSMO) project from April 2020 (N = 1,006), our analyses show that neither health-related nor economic worries are associated with less support for providing development assistance during the first wave of the pandemic. However, we observe a marginal interaction between health-related worries and trust in government in predicting support for development assistance. For those with high levels of trust in government the effect of worry regarding the loss of friends or relatives on support for development assistance is positive, whereas it is close to zero for those with low levels of trust. We conclude that at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic there was little need for concern by policy-makers endorsing development assistance as neither form of worry correlated negatively with public support for development assistance and trust was high. However, when worries recur and trust in government simultaneously decreases, public support for global solidarity may wane.