Who is afraid of sanctions? The macroeconomic and distributional effects of the sanctions against Iran Articles uri icon



publication date

  • December 2021

start page

  • 395

end page

  • 428


  • 3


  • 34

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0954-1985


  • The sanctions imposed on Iran at the beginning of 2012 have simultaneously limited the country's access to the international financial system, levied a strict boycott on Iran's oil and petrochemical exports, and limited imports of intermediate goods. This paper tries to quantify the aggregate and heterogeneous effects of these sanctions. Applying the synthetic control method, I show that the sanctions had persistent and significant effects on the Iranian economy. The cost reached its maximum of 19.1% of real gross domestic product 4 years after the application of the sanctions, and the economy has not fully recovered after their removal. I trace the poverty dynamics for different household groups after the sanctions by adopting a synthetic panel using Iran's household income and expenditure survey data. Inconsistently with the sanctions' initial goals, poverty dynamics suggest that households working in governmental sectors and educated households are unaffected by the sanctions. Instead, the sanctions condemn young, illiterate, rural, or religious minority households to poverty.


  • Economics


  • heterogeneous poverty dynamics; sanction; synthetic control method; synthetic panel