Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Memorandum,
Oslo University, Department of Economics

No 05/2009: Opium for the Masses? Conflict-induced Narcotics Production in Afghanistan

Jo Thori Lind (), Karl Ove Moene () and Fredrik Willumsen ()
Additional contact information
Jo Thori Lind: Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo, Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Karl Ove Moene: Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo, Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Fredrik Willumsen: Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo, Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: We show that the recent rise in Afghan opium production is caused by violent conflicts. Violence destroys roads and irrigation, crucial to alternative crops, and weakens local incentives to rebuild infrastructure and enforce law and order. Exploiting a unique data set, we show that Western hostile casualties, our proxy for conflict, have strong impact on subsequent local opium production. This proxy is shown to be exogenous to opium. We exploit the discontinuity at the end of the planting season: Conflicts have strong effects before and no effect after planting, assuring causality. Effects are strongest where government law enforcement is weak.

Keywords: Conflict; narcotics production; resource curse; Afghanistan

JEL-codes: D74; H56; K42

41 pages, February 20, 2009

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