Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that economic sanctions, a popular tool of modern foreign policy, have a negative collateral damage to the political system of the target state. However, it is not clear under which circumstances sanctions have an autocratizing effect. Newer data on sanctions and regimes enable testing the most plausible hypotheses. The quantitative analysis finds that sanctions with high economic costs do not cause autocratization. Sanctions are not as bad – and perhaps not as useless – as many fear.