Estimating Dynamic State Preferences from United Nations Voting Data
Georgetown University - Department of Government
Harvard University - Department of Government
Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)
September 25, 2013
UN General Assembly votes have become the standard data source for measures of the degree to which states have common preferences over foreign policy. Almost without exception, those papers use dyadic indicators of voting similarity between states. We propose a dynamic ordinal spatial model to estimate state ideal points from 1946-2012 on a single dimension that reflects state positions towards the U.S. led liberal order. We use information about the content of the UN's agenda to make estimates comparable across time. Compared to existing measures, our estimates better separate signal from noise in identifying foreign policy shifts, have greater face validity, allow for better inter-temporal comparisons, are less sensitive to shifts in the UN's agenda, and are strongly correlated with measures of liberalism. We show that the choice of method is consequential with a replication of a prominent application to the democratic peace.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: United Nations, Ideal Points, International Organizations, State Preferences
JEL Classification: K33, N40working papers series
Date posted: September 26, 2013
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