The Constraining Power of International Treaties: Theory and Methods

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The Constraining Power of International Treaties: Theory and Methods

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Title: The Constraining Power of International Treaties: Theory and Methods
Author: Simmons, Beth; Hopkins, Daniel

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Simmons, Beth A. and Daniel J. Hopkins. 2005. The constraining power of international treaties: Theories and Methods. American Political Science Review 99(4): 623-631.
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Abstract: We acknowledge the contribution of von Stein (2005) in calling attention to the very real problem of selection bias in estimating treaty effects. Nonetheless, we dispute both von Stein's theoretical and empirical conclusions. Theoretically, we contend that treaties can both screen and constrain simultaneously, meaning that findings of screening do nothing to undermine the claim that treaties constrain state behavior as well. Empirically, we question von Stein's estimator on sevral grounds, including its strong distributional assumptions and its statistical inconsistency. we then illustrate that selection bias does not account for much of the difference between Simmon's (2000) and von Stein's (2005) estimated treaty effects, and instead reframe the problem as one of model dependency. Using a preprocessing matching step to reduce that dependency, we then illustrate treaty effects that are both substantively and statistically significant- and that are quite close in magnitude to those reported by Simmons.
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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [8255]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University

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