In This Review

Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd ed.
Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd ed.
By Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott, Kimberly Ann Elliott
233 pp, Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2007

This is the third edition of a well-known study of the effectiveness of economic sanctions, covering 204 episodes up to the year 2000, of which a third have occurred since the second edition was published, in 1990. Hufbauer and his colleagues examine each episode for the motivation behind imposing sanctions, the nature and magnitude of the sanctions, the effectiveness of the sanctions in damaging the economy of the target country, and the efficacy of the sanctions in achieving their stated objectives. (All the episodes, plus 13 more that have occurred since 2000, are reported in a separate CD-ROM.) Perhaps surprisingly, the authors find that the sanctions were effective in the partial or full attainment of the goals in 34 percent of the cases examined, which include all on which there is adequate public information in the period from 1914 to 2000. The authors conclude that sanctions are more likely to succeed the more sharply focused are the goals and the greater the sanctions' impact on the economic well-being of the target country. They are also more likely to succeed when they are applied to target countries with which relations have been friendly, rather than antagonistic, before the application of the sanctions. And they are not more likely to be effective when multilateral, rather than unilateral, perhaps because multilateral sanctions are more likely to be used in complex and difficult cases. These empirical generalizations, and others, arise from the cases studied, and there are counterexamples to each generalization. Details and timing, it turns out, are all-important.