Global Perspectives | Report | November 2017

GPI Study 2017

The Germans' Point of View on Development and Africa's Future

A representative survey of the Global Perspectives Initiative, executed by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach

Publication Download:

GPI Study 2017

Please note: The GPI Study 2017 is only available in German language.

Executive Summary

The German people are generally open-minded towards development cooperation, but at the same time view it with a certain distance and mistrust. This is shown by a recent study conducted by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy on behalf of the Global Perspectives Initiative in November 2017.

The study shows that Germans are aware of the multiple problems developing countries have to deal with. The overwhelming majority are convinced that the development of these countries is hindered by numerous factors, such as unsatisfactory political conditions and civil wars, terrorism, corruption, inadequate education, ill health and poor medical care, water scarcity, overpopulation, inadequate infrastructure and administrative failures.

The German citizen’s view on Africa is dominated by the dangers and problems within the countries. The overwhelming majority associate this continent with hunger, disease, flight, corruption and overpopulation. Only a minority is thinking about Africa in combination with opportunities, potential, new beginnings, growth and future.

The majority states that development co-operation can at least help tackle part of the problems. Germans feel that this applies in particular to inadequate medical care and the fight against epidemics, education and vocational training, infrastructure and water scarcity, and in part to administrative maladministration. However, the term “development cooperation” is not yet established; Only 30 percent have already heard of the term, but some place it in a different context, such as corporate and academic collaborations. The established term is still “development aid”.

The vast majority generally feel positive towards development aid – but at the same time observe it with a certain distance. Only 24 percent are “very much in favour” of Germany’s development aid, 49 percent are “rather in favour”; and only 13 percent oppose development aid. One reason for this are doubts about the effectiveness of aid and the use of resources. Only 27 percent of German citizens feel that so far development aid has been successful in achieving sustainable improvements in developing countries. 61 percent are sceptical about the achievements of development aid; The majority of sceptics are convinced that development aid does not currently reach its potential and, if conceptualised in a different way, could certainly achieve lasting success.

Only 11 percent believe that the utilised resources are mainly used for their actual purpose; 54 percent assume that only a certain part is used for its actual purpose, 20 percent are convinced that this applies only to a small fraction of the funds used. Most survey participants suspect that a large proportion of the money ends up in the wrong hands due to corruption, and is spent on administrative purposes. Citizens are most trustworthy towards religious aid organizations, stating that the funds are most likely used to improve living conditions in the countries. 51 percent of the population believe this about church organizations, 46 percent have this opinion about the United Nations, and just as many people do so with regards to private initiatives by individuals or small groups. The least trusted in this respect are business organizations and companies.

The results of the study show that the German population views current development aid more as a charitable commitment and less as a support system in building intact economic, social and political structures. At the same time, however, the majority does not agree with using development aid as a purely altruistic charitable commitment. 61 percent demand that development aid should also commit itself to the goal of solving developing countries’ problems in the long term, especially in the interest of the donor countries. 59 percent of the population are convinced that Germany would benefit itself if development assistance helped to sustainably improve the situation in developing countries. Open-mindedness towards development aid and an increase in the use of resources are closely linked with this assessment. The majority is convinced that development aid could help combat the causes of flight and migration. As the population has been sensitized to the issues of flight and persecution, this issue has a completely different status today than a few years ago. However, one key question is how to increase the German’s confidence that sustainable success can be achieved in developing countries.


  • Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach


  • Global Perspectives Initiative

More Publications on This Topic: