31 Jan 2013    Reports/ Presentations
Oechslin, Manuel

Targeting Autocrats: Economic Sanctions and Regime Change

NCCR-Trade Working Paper No. 2013/31 by Manuel Oechslin

When it comes to international economic sanctions, the most frequent goal is regime change and democratization. Yet, use and consequences of such sanctions are little understood. Past experiences suggest that they are often unsuccessful. Moreover, paradoxically, targeted regimes tend to respond by implementing policies which severely amplify the sanctions’ harmful effects. This paper offers a political-economy model which provides an intuitive explanation for these observations. Autocratic regimes lower the supply of public goods to reduce private-sector productivity and hence the resources of potential challengers. As a result, sanctions-induced challenges become less likely - and the sanctions episode may end in failure.

Working Paper No. 2013/31