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Human Rights: The Effect of Neighbouring Countries

By Todd Landman, T. Huw Edwards, Tulio Antonio-Cravo and David Kernohan


We examine the geo-political and international spatial aspects of human rights (HR), using a purpose designed data-set. Applying tools from the spatial economics literature, we analyse the impact on a country’s HR performance of geographical proximity to its neighbours. Unlike previous studies, our approach treats this as partly endogenous: one country’s HR performance will affect its neighbours through a variety of potential geographical spillover mechanisms. We start with simple descriptive accounts, using scatter plots, of the geographic history of HR performance. Using a relatively simple spatial weighting model approach we compare each country’s HR performance with what would be predicted by regression on a weighted average of its neighbours’ performance (i.e. weightings depending positively on country population , and negatively upon distance), using a cross sectional and panel dataset of one hundred and sixty countries. We regress measures of population size, distance between countries, the prevalence of war or ethnic conflict, as well as per capita incomes and distribution, to test the general hypothesis that there may be positive spillovers between neighbours’ human rights performance. This is then extended to derive measures of HR performance relative to both economic, social and spatial factors.Human rights, spatial econometrics

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