Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 59
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Aakre, Stine 2016. The political feasibility of potent enforcement in a post-Kyoto climate agreement. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol. 16, Issue. 1, p. 145.

    Arnold, Christian 2016. Empty Promises and Nonincorporation in Mercosur. International Interactions, p. 1.

    Bayram, A. Burcu 2016. Good Europeans? How European identity and costs interact to explain politician attitudes towards compliance with European Union law. Journal of European Public Policy, p. 1.

    Fuhrmann, Matthew and Lupu, Yonatan 2016. Do Arms Control Treaties Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. International Studies Quarterly, p. sqw013.

    Hug, Simon and Wegmann, Simone 2016. Complying with Human Rights. International Interactions, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 590.

    Kahn-Nisser, Sara 2016. A Matter of Degree: Europeanization, ILO Treaty Ratification and Labour Standards in Europe. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Vol. 24, Issue. 3, p. 356.

    Lutmar, Carmela Carneiro, Cristiane L. and Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin 2016. Formal Commitments and States’ Interests: Compliance in International Relations. International Interactions, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 559.

    Prakash, Aseem and Potoski, Matthew 2016. Dysfunctional institutions? Toward a New Agenda in Governance Studies. Regulation & Governance, Vol. 10, Issue. 2, p. 115.

    Uang, Randy Hiilamo, Heikki and Glantz, Stanton A. 2016. Accelerated Adoption of Smoke-Free Laws After Ratification of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, Issue. 1, p. 166.

    Wang, Zhiyuan 2016. Treaty Commitment as a Signaling Device: Explaining the Ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Human Rights Review, Vol. 17, Issue. 2, p. 193.

    Bower, Adam 2015. Norms Without the Great Powers: International Law, Nested Social Structures, and the Ban on Antipersonnel Mines. International Studies Review, p. n/a.

    Donno, Daniela Metzger, Shawna K. and Russett, Bruce 2015. Screening Out Risk: IGOs, Member State Selection, and Interstate Conflict, 1951-2000. International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 59, Issue. 2, p. 251.

    Hoffman, Steven J. and Røttingen, John-Arne 2015. Assessing the Expected Impact of Global Health Treaties: Evidence From 90 Quantitative Evaluations. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 105, Issue. 1, p. 26.

    Moore, Will H. and Welch, Ryan M. 2015. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    Nieman, Mark David 2015. Statistical Analysis of Strategic Interaction with Unobserved Player Actions: Introducing a Strategic Probit with Partial Observability. Political Analysis, Vol. 23, Issue. 3, p. 429.

    Ritter, Emily Hencken and Conrad, Courtenay R. 2015. Human rights treaties and mobilized dissent against the state. The Review of International Organizations,

    Ross, Michael L. and Voeten, Erik 2015. Oil and International Cooperation. International Studies Quarterly, p. sqv003.

    Baccini, Leonardo and Urpelainen, Johannes 2014. Before Ratification: Understanding the Timing of International Treaty Effects on Domestic Policies. International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 58, Issue. 1, p. 29.

    Gilbert, Jo-Anne and Sharman, J. C. 2014. Turning a Blind Eye to Bribery: Explaining Failures to Comply with the International Anti-corruption Regime. Political Studies, p. n/a.

    Subramanian, Narayan and Urpelainen, Johannes 2014. Addressing cross-border environmental displacement: when can international treaties help?. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol. 14, Issue. 1, p. 25.


Do Treaties Constrain or Screen? Selection Bias and Treaty Compliance

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2005

Much recent research has found that states generally comply with the treaties they sign. The implications of this finding, however, are unclear: do states comply because the legal commitment compels them to do so, or because of the conditions that led them to sign? Drawing from previous research in this Review on Article VIII of the IMF Treaty (Simmons 2000a), I examine the problem of selection bias in the study of treaty compliance. To understand how and whether international legal commitments affect state behavior, one must control for all sources of selection into the treaty—including those that are not directly observable. I develop a statistical method that controls for such sources of selection and find considerable evidence that the unobservable conditions that lead states to make the legal commitment to Article VIII have a notable impact on their propensity to engage in compliant behavior. The results suggest that the international legal commitment has little constraining power independent of the factors that lead states to sign.

Corresponding author
Jana von Stein is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, ISR, PO Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106 (
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *