A popular objection to aid programs is that they involve an unjustifiable form of paternalism. According to this objection, aid programs presuppose that international development agencies and donors from high income countries can understand and solve the problems faced by individuals in developing countries better than those individuals or their governments.

One approach to address this concern is to focus on areas in which outsiders have a good track record of effectively contributing targeted expertise, such as health and nutrition. This would then empower citizens from developing countries to improve areas in which outsiders lack such expertise. Another approach is to favor unconditional cash transfers. This would enable recipients to decide how best to use the resources.

There have also been attempts by EA organizations to understand and include the moral values of their potential beneficiaries into their decision making processes .[1]

Further reading

Halstead, John (2017) Where should anti-paternalists donate?, John Halstead’s Blog, May 4.

GiveWell (2019) IDinsight — Beneficiary preferences survey (2019), GiveWell, May (updated December 2019).

Karnofsky, Holden (2012) How not to be a “white in shining armor”, GiveWell, April 12.

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