Sanctioned to Death? The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Life Expectancy and its Gender Gap
53 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2020
Date Written: 2019
We empirically analyze the effect of UN and US economic sanctions on life expectancy and its gender gap in target countries. Our sample covers 98 less developed and newly industrialized countries over the period 1977–2012. We employ a matching approach to account for the endogeneity of sanctions. Our results indicate that an average episode of UN sanctions reduces life expectancy by about 1.2–1.4 years. The corresponding decrease of 0.4–0.5 years under US sanctions is significantly smaller. In addition, we find evidence that women are affected more severely by the imposition of sanctions. Sanctions not being "gender-blind" indicates that they disproportionately affect (the life expectancy of) the more vulnerable members of society. We also detect effect heterogeneity, as the reduction in life expectancy accumulates over time and countries with a better political environment are less severely affected by economic sanctions. Finally, we provide some evidence that an increase in child mortality and Cholera deaths as well as a decrease in public spending on health care are transmission channels through which UN sanctions adversely affect life expectancy in the targeted countries.
Keywords: gender gap, human development, life expectancy, sanctions, United Nations, United States
JEL Classification: F510, F530, I150, J160, K330
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