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Always Affecting the Wrong People? The Impact of US Sanctions on Poverty


  • Matthias Neuenkirch

    () (University of Trier)

  • Florian Neumeier

    () (University of Marburg)


In this paper, we analyze the effect of US economic sanctions on the target countries’ poverty gap during the period 1978–2011. Econometrically, we employ a nearest neighbor matching approach to account for differences in the countries’ economic and political environment and the likelihood of being exposed to US sanctions. Our results indicate that US sanctions are indeed affecting the wrong people as we observe a 2.3–5.1 percentage points (pp) larger poverty gap in sanctioned countries compared to their nearest neighbors. Severe sanctions, such as fuel embargoes, trade restrictions, the freezing of assets, or embargoes on most or all economic activity are particularly detrimental and lead to an increase in the poverty gap by 6.1–7.4 pp.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Neuenkirch & Florian Neumeier, 2015. "Always Affecting the Wrong People? The Impact of US Sanctions on Poverty," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201510, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  • Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201510

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neuenkirch, Matthias & Neumeier, Florian, 2015. "The impact of UN and US economic sanctions on GDP growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 110-125.
    2. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2011. "Bias-Corrected Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 1-11, January.
    3. Marco Caliendo & Sabine Kopeinig, 2008. "Some Practical Guidance For The Implementation Of Propensity Score Matching," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 31-72, February.
    4. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
    5. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, January.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2000:90:4:546-552_4 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Afesorgbor, Sylvanus Kwaku & Mahadevan, Renuka, 2016. "The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Income Inequality of Target States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 1-11.

    More about this item


    Economic Sanctions; Nearest neighbor Matching; Poverty; United States;

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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