Do Sanctions Work?
Researchers were curious to know how impactful sanctions had been in recent history, but no such comprehensive catalogue existed. So they created it.

Imposing sanctions is among the most common ways governments attempt to influence one another’s policies. Yet until recently there was no comprehensive accounting of their nature, use and international consequences.

To fill this void, School of Economics PhD candidate Aleksandra Kirilakha together with economics professors Constantinos Syropoulos and Yoto Yotov of the LeBow College of Business and Gabriel Felbermayr, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and professor Erdal Yalcin of Konstanz University, created the Global Sanctions Data Base (GSDB).

It has become one of the most prominent tools for research in this area, accessed by more than 400 researchers worldwide to date.

“Economic sanctions are policy actions by states to influence other states to take particular actions that will fulfill some sort of objective, usually related to human rights, terrorist activities or termination of wars,” Syropoulos says.

“They differ from other kinds of policies in that they aim to alter a target’s policy actions.” 

Among other things, they found that more than 190 countries have imposed sanctions, and that the rate of success has been 30 to 50 percent.

“Sanctions play a very important role for international trade flows,” Yotov says. “If you do not control properly for the presence of sanctions and their impact, predictions about the effects of other trade policies may be significantly biased.”

The Global Sanctions Data Base is freely available by emailing a request to gsdb@drexel.edu.