How Sanctions Affect Public Opinion in Target Countries: Experimental Evidence From Israel

Guy Grossman, Devorah Manekin*, Yotam Margalit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do economic sanctions affect the political attitudes of individuals in targeted countries? Do they reduce or increase support for policy change? Are targeted, “smart” sanctions more effective in generating public support? Despite the importance of these questions for understanding the effectiveness of sanctions, they have received little systematic attention. We address them drawing on original data from Israel, where the threat of economic sanctions has sparked a contentious policy debate. We first examine the political effects of the European Union’s (EU) 2015 decision to label goods produced in the West Bank, and then expand our analysis by employing a survey experiment that allows us to test the differential impact of sanction type and sender identity. We find that the EU’s decision produced a backlash effect, increasing support for hardline policies and raising hostility toward Europe. Our findings further reveal that individuals are likely to support concessions only in the most extreme and unlikely of circumstances—a comprehensive boycott imposed by a sender perceived as a key strategic ally. These results offer theoretical and policy implications for the study of the effects of economic sanctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1823-1857
Number of pages35
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • experimental research
  • political economy
  • sanctions
  • subnational politics


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