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Economics Faculty Create First-Ever Global Sanctions Data Base

August 06, 2021

Imposing sanctions is among the most common ways governments attempt to influence one another’s policies. Yet until recently there was no comprehensive accounting of their nature, use and international consequences.

To fill this void, School of Economics PhD candidate Aleksandra Kirilakha together with economics professors Constantinos Syropoulos, PhD, and Yoto Yotov, PhD, of the LeBow College of Business and Gabriel Felbermayr, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and professor Erdal Yalcin of Konstanz University, created the Global Sanctions Data Base (GSDB).

It has become one of the most prominent tools for research in this area, accessed by more than 400 researchers worldwide to date.

“Economic sanctions are policy actions by states to influence other states to take particular actions that will fulfill some sort of objective, usually related to human rights, terrorist activities or termination of wars,” Syropoulos says.

“They differ from other kinds of policies in that they aim to alter a target’s policy actions.”

Among other things, they found that more than 190 countries have imposed sanctions, and that the rate of success has been 30 to 50 percent.

“Sanctions play a very important role for international trade flows,” Yotov says. “If you do not control properly for the presence of sanctions and their impact, predictions about the effects of other trade policies may be significantly biased.”

The Global Sanctions Data Base is freely available by emailing a request to

This research was featured in the New York Times in March 2022 with the title “Boycotts, Not Bombs: Sanctions Are a Go-To Tactic, With Uneven Results”

This story was originally published in Drexel’s EXEL Magazine with the title “Do Sanctions Work?”

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Headshot of Constantinos Syropoulos

Trustee Professor of International Economics; Trustee Professor of Economics, Professor, Economics

Headshot of Yoto Yotov

Professor, Economics