Precision-Guided or Blunt? The Effects of US Economic Sanctions on Human Rights
Universitat Trier, Research Papers in Economics, No. 9/16
45 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2016 Last revised: 15 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 15, 2017
This study contributes to the literature that analyzes the consequences of economic sanctions for the target country’s human rights situation. We offer a political economy explanation for different types of human rights infringements or improvements in reaction to economic shocks caused by sanctions. Based on this, we derive hypotheses linking sanctions to four types of human rights: economic rights, political and civil rights, basic human rights, and emancipatory rights. We use endogenous treatment-regression models to test these hypotheses by estimating the causal average treatment effect of US economic sanctions on each type of human rights within a uniform empirical framework. Unlike previous studies, we find no support for adverse effects of sanctions on economic rights or basic human rights, once the endogenous selection of sanctioned countries is modelled. With respect to women’s rights, our findings even indicate a positive effect of sanctions. In contrast, our results for political rights and civil liberties suggest that they deteriorate significantly under economic sanctions. We conclude that it is important to account for the potential endogeneity of economic sanctions and to distinguish different dimensions of human rights, as the effects of economic sanctions on these dimensions may vary considerably.
Keywords: Democratization, Discrimination, Economic Sanctions, Endogenous Treatment Model, Human Rights, Repression, United States
JEL Classification: F51, F52, F53, K10, K11, P14, P16, P26
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