The power to hurt and the effectiveness of international sanctions
Kavaklı, Kerim Can and Chatagnier, John Tyson and Hatipoğlu, Emre (2019) The power to hurt and the effectiveness of international sanctions. (Accepted/In Press)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/707398
Although costs of trade disruption play a central role in theories of interstate conflict, scholars have had difficulty in constructing appropriate measures of trade wars, and few have explored how states can mitigate the resulting costs, reducing vulnerability to economic coercion. We study these questions in the context of economic sanctions, arguing that during a crisis, each side’s comparative advantage in exports and domestic production capabilities determine its ability to minimize costs while maximizing its power to hurt the adversary. We find support for our hypotheses, using commodity-level trade data. Sanctions are more likely to succeed when sanctioners have a comparative advantage in the goods they export to the target, but more likely to fail if the target’s export portfolio is diverse or the target has a comparative advantage in exports. This is particularly true once sanctions are imposed. These findings open up the black box of sanction costs and improve our understanding of when economic coercion is likely to succeed.
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