The Human Consequences of Economic Sanctions

May 4, 2023


Francisco Rodriguez


Center for Economic and Policy Research

This paper provides a comprehensive survey and assessment of the literature on the effects of economic sanctions on living standards in target countries. We identify 32 studies that apply quantitative econometric or calibration methods to cross-country and national data to assess the impact of economic sanctions on indicators of human and economic development. Of these, 30 studies find that sanctions have negative effects on outcomes ranging from per capita income to poverty, inequality, mortality, and human rights. We provide in-depth discussions of three sanctions episodes — Iran, Afghanistan, and Venezuela — that illustrate the channels through which sanctions affect living conditions in target countries. In the three cases, sanctions that restricted the access of governments to foreign exchange limited the ability of states to provide essential public goods and services and generated substantial negative spillovers on private sector and nongovernmental actors.


Read the full report at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.