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Structural estimation of economic sanctions: From initiation to outcomes


  • Taehee Whang

    (Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University,


When are economic sanctions expected to succeed? Previous studies predict that sanctions will be more effective when the issue at stake is important, when the sender and target are allied, when the target’s domestic institutions are more democratic, and when the target’s economy is dependent on the sender’s. This article subjects these explanations to an empirical test using a new fully structural estimation that employs a game theoretic model as a statistical model. The initiation and outcomes of sanctions are incorporated with the strategic behaviors of sender and target states into a unified model. The model improves upon extant models by allowing the initial choice of the sender states to be multiple, not binary. This non-binary option enables the sender states to opt for the optimal intensity level of sanctions. Findings suggest that issue salience is positively associated with the decision to impose sanctions, but not necessarily with their effectiveness. Further, allied targets tend to comply even when they can win a sanctions contest, while non-allied targets tend to resist even when they know that on average the sender is likely to continue sanctioning in the face of resistance. Since sanctions imposed from 1903 to 2002 take place disproportionately between non-allied dyads, and thus belong to the category of sanctions most likely to fail, we can begin to understand why sanctions have such a low success rate.

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  • Taehee Whang, 2010. "Structural estimation of economic sanctions: From initiation to outcomes," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(5), pages 561-573, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:5:p:561-573

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    Cited by:

    1. Sergey Mityakov & Heiwai Tang & Kevin K. Tsui, 2012. "InternationalPolitics and Import Diversification in the Second Wave of Globalization," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0770, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    2. William Seitz, 2013. "Trade Restrictions and Conflict Commodities: Market Reactions to Regulations on Conflict Minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo," OxCarre Working Papers 102, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    3. Sergey Mityakov & Heiwai Tang & Kevin K. Tsui, 2013. "International Politics and Import Diversification," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 1091-1121.


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