Making Dictators’ Pockets Empty: How Do U.S. Sanctions Influence Social Policies in Autocratic Countries?

2017-11-27T13:35:30Z (GMT) by Wondeuk Cho
<p>This work examines how U.S. economic sanctions affect social welfare spending in authoritarian countries. U.S. economic sanctions play a role of leading autocratic targets to change social policy through two theoretical channels. First, U.S. economic sanctions may reduce autocrats’ resources to buy off supports from ruling elite groups and so force autocrats to reallocate government expenditure in favor of their supporting groups. Consequently, autocrats facing longer U.S. sanctions are likely to cut spending on public goods and services, especially on education and health care spending. Second, the impacts of U.S. sanction duration on social spending vary according to political variables such as autocrats’ pseudo-democratic institutions. The empirical findings show that, even when U.S. sanctions last a long time, autocrats under nominal democratic institutions cut spending on education and health to a lesser degree than do autocrats with no such institutions. In contrast, autocrats relying on pseudo-democratic institutions reduce social security spending a little more than did non-institutionalized autocrats.</p>