The domestic impact of international standards


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Regulation is no longer purely a domestic affair. International standards now exist across a broad range of regulatory arenas, touching on issues that may be central to domestic values, such as the regulation of health, safety, and the environment. Although a number of studies have looked at the domestic impact of globalization more generally, few scholars have evaluated the effects of international standards, specifically. This paper investigates that issue, with an empirical focus on agrochemicals. Using original data on changes to US agrochemical regulations between 1996 and 2015, I evaluate whether and how domestic rules have changed in response to international standards. Contrary to common fears, I find little evidence that international standards primarily act as a ceiling, thereby undermining domestic regulations. Instead, international standards seem to serve as focal points, pulling nations toward leniency as well as toward stringency. These findings not only contribute to the broader literature on the domestic effects of globalization, but they also allay concerns that international standards could act as a regulatory cap, encouraging nations to sacrifice caution for economic gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-608
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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