What states want: Estimating ideal points from international investment treaty content

Florencia Montal, Carly Potz-Nielsen, Jane Lawrence Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


When negotiating investment treaties, states balance two goals: providing strong protections for investors (investor protection), which is thought to attract foreign direct investment, and maintaining the ability to regulate their economies (regulatory autonomy). In this article we argue that treaty content can tell us about the latent preferences that states have over the level of investor protection enshrined in BITs. We use an item response theory (IRT) model and a dataset of 1,144 treaties to estimate latent preferences on this scale for signatory countries. Our measure is of use to scholars interested in studying bilateral investment treaties, international law, and foreign direct investment, and our model is of use to anyone aiming to estimate latent preferences from jointly produced manifestations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-691
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The dataset and run-files for the empirical analysis in this article, as well as the Online appendix, can be found at http://www.prio.org/jpr/datasets.


  • Bayesian item response theory model
  • bilateral investment treaties
  • latent variable estimation

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