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Policy Design and Domestic Support for International Bailouts

48 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2017

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Yotam M. Margalit

Columbia University

Date Written: May 1, 2012


Financial bailouts for ailing Eurozone countries face deep and widespread opposition among voters in donor countries, casting major doubts over the political feasibility of further assistance efforts. What is the nature of the opposition and under what conditions can governments obtain broader political support for funding such large-scale, international transfers? Addressing this question, we distinguish theoretically between ‘fundamental’ versus ‘contingent’ attitudes. Whereas the former entail complete rejection or embrace of a policy, contingent attitudes depend on the specific features of the policy and could shift if those features are altered. Combining unique data from an original survey in Germany, the largest donor country, together with an experiment that varies salient policy dimensions, our analysis indicates that less than a quarter of the public exhibits fundamental opposition to the bailouts. Testing a set of theories on contingent attitudes, we find particular sensitivity to the burden-sharing and cost dimensions of the bailouts. Our results imply that the choice of specific features of a rescue package has important consequences for building domestic support for international assistance efforts.

Keywords: bailouts, Eurozone, public opinion, conjoint analysis

JEL Classification: F5, P16, F34, D72

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Hainmueller, Jens and Margalit, Yotam M., Policy Design and Domestic Support for International Bailouts (May 1, 2012). European Journal of Political Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Jens Hainmueller (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States


Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Yotam Margalit

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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