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Can I stay a BIT longer? The effect of bilateral investment treaties on political survival

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  • Soumyajit Mazumder

    () (Harvard University)

Abstract

Abstract Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) have proliferated throughout the international system. While ostensibly commercial in purpose, do BITs have domestic political ramifications? I argue that BITs affect a leader’s tenure through their effect on the property rights environment in developing countries. BITs, by segmenting a country’s property rights environment for foreign and domestic firms, reduce the incentive for foreign firms to lobby for property rights protections in the host country thus leading to a stagnating domestic property rights environment. In autocracies, a stagnating domestic property rights regime benefits domestic business elites who can continue to stymie small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The political benefits of BITs, however, decrease as a country becomes more democratic. Using a dataset of developing country leaders over the period 1965-2011, I find support for my hypothesis that BITs are associated with a decreased hazard of losing office and that the effect diminishes with higher levels of democracy. My results highlight the consequences of the legalization of global investment on the domestic political economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Soumyajit Mazumder, 2016. "Can I stay a BIT longer? The effect of bilateral investment treaties on political survival," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 477-521, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:revint:v:11:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s11558-015-9235-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s11558-015-9235-7
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    Keywords

    International treaties; Multinational corporations; Property rights; Legalization;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations
    • F60 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - General
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law

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