The Informative Power of Treaty Commitment: Using the Spatial Model to Address Selection Effects
American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57, No. 4 (2013), pp. 912-925.
34 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2011 Last revised: 30 Oct 2014
Date Written: January 30, 2013
The effects of international institutions on state behavior make up a key research agenda in international relations scholarship. Because states self-select into treaties, we cannot infer that these commitments have causal effects unless we address this selection effect. I explain the significant limitations of the methods used thus far to overcome this problem and argue that a more effective approach must take into account states' treaty preferences. I describe a novel combination of ideal point estimation and propensity score matching that can estimate the probabilities of treaty commitment and use them to test hypotheses. I use this procedure to the test the effects of three key international human rights treaties. My results provide significant new findings regarding the effects of these important agreements.
Keywords: International law, international institutions, human rights, selection effect, matching, ideal point estimation
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