Jonathan Ewing

Every year, the Kaiser Family Foundation surveys the nation about our perceptions of foreign aid. And every year, Americans surveyed think we spend way more on foreign aid than we actually do.

This year’s survey goes deeper into Americans’ perceptions of our engagement with the world. Here’s a summary (with pretty graphs).

Top 5 Takeaways from the KFF Poll

1. The 1% Argument Works!

Americans think we spend 28% of the federal budget on foreign aid. When you tell them that it’s only one percent of the budget, here’s what happens:

information-can-change-perceptions-about-amount-spent-on-foreign-aid-polling

2. “Foreign Aid” is nebulous – be specific

Talk about “foreign aid” and people want to cut it. Tell them about global health programs, and they can get on board with that:

specificity-matters-more-support-for-spending-to-improve-health-than-generic-foreign-aid-polling

3. Americans want to be involved

Twice as many people think that being engaged in the international community is the better way to go:

most-prefer-us-to-participate-in-international-efforts-polling

4. Because it’s the right thing to do

Sure, investing in foreign and and global health programs grow our economy and keep us safe, but Americans still believe in doing the right thing:

moral-reason-for-global-health-spending-trumps-self-interest-polling

5. But we still have a long way to go

Even when you tell people how little we spend, how much good it does, and how right it is, we still have a long way to go before Americans don’t want to cut it:

most-support-at-least-minor-reductions-in-aid-spending-to-reduce-deficit-polling

Want to dive deeper? Read the full report.

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