Public Choice

, Volume 180, Issue 3–4, pp 191–215 | Cite as

Do sanctions lead to a decline in civil liberties?

  • Antonis AdamEmail author
  • Sofia Tsarsitalidou


In this paper, we examine the effect of US-imposed sanctions on the civil liberties of the targeted countries for the 1972–2014 period. To deal with the problem of selection and to control for the pre-sanction dynamics, we use a potential outcomes framework, which does not rely on the selection of matching variables and has the further advantage of uncovering the effect of the treatment on the outcome variable over time. What we find is that sanctions result in a decline in civil liberties, measured either by the Freedom House civil liberties index or by the Cingranelli and Richards empowerment rights index. The results are robust across various specifications.


Sanctions Democracy Civil liberties 

JEL Classification

F51 F63 D74 



We would like to thank Nikos Mylonidis, Thomas Moutos, Mario Gilli, Stamatia Ftergioti, Fabio Antoniou, Mohammad Reza Farzaneganm, Paul Schaudt, participants at the 11th CESifo Workshop on Political Economy, participants at the 2nd PEDD conference, and seminar participants at the University of Ioannina and University of Patras and two anonymous referees for all their valuable comments and suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece

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