Public Diplomacy Increases Foreign Public Approval: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis

43 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2020

See all articles by Benjamin E. Goldsmith

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations - Australian National University

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Kelly Matush

Texas Tech University

Date Written: April 1, 2020

Abstract

Although many governments invest significant resources to communicate directly with foreign publics, aiming to shape global affairs with “soft power” Nye (1990), we have little well-identified evidence that can tell us whether such “public diplomacy” campaigns are effective. In this research note, we estimate the impacts of an important type of public diplomacy that many governments deploy around the world: high-level visits by national leaders to other countries. We combine a novel data set of the official international travels of 15 leaders from 9 countries to 38 host countries over 11 years, with 32,456 individual-level responses to surveys administered in the host countries. Based on a date-of-interview regression discontinuity design, we estimate the degree to which leaders can sway foreign public opinion during their travels abroad. We find that high-level public diplomacy substantially increases approval and decrease disapproval, thereby strengthening a state’s international position.

Keywords: public diplomacy; high-level visits; soft power; public opinion

JEL Classification: C21, D74, D78, D83

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Benjamin E. and Horiuchi, Yusaku and Matush, Kelly, Public Diplomacy Increases Foreign Public Approval: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis (April 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3566347 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3566347

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations - Australian National University ( email )

Canberra
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/goldsmith-b

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Kelly Matush

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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