The Political Economy of Weak Treaties

46 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2016 Last revised: 4 Apr 2022

See all articles by Marco Battaglini

Marco Battaglini

Cornell University

Bård Harstad

University of Oslo - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

In recent decades, democratic countries have signed hundreds of international environmental agreements (IEAs). Most of these agreements, however, are weak: they generally do not include effective enforcement or monitoring mechanisms. This is a puzzle in standard economic models. To study this phenomenon, we propose a positive theory of IEAs in which the political incumbents negotiate them in the shadow of reelection concerns. We show that, in these environments, incumbents are prone to negotiate treaties that are simultaneously overambitious (larger than what they would be without electoral concerns) and weak (might not be implemented in full). The theory also provides a new perspective for understanding investments in green technologies, highlighting a channel through which countries are tempted to rely too much on technology instead of sanctions to make compliance credible. We present preliminary evidence consistent with these predictions.

Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco and Harstad, Bard, The Political Economy of Weak Treaties (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22968, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890100

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Bard Harstad

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/people/aca/bardh/

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