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Opium for the Masses? Conflict-Induced Narcotics Production in Afghanistan


  • Jo Thori Lind

    (University of Ohio)

  • Karl Ove Moene

    (University of Oslo)

  • Fredik Willumsen

    (University of Oslo)


To explain the rise in Afghan opium production, we explore how rising conflicts change the incentives of farmers. Conflicts make illegal opportunities more profitable as they increase the perceived lawlessness and destroy infrastructure crucial to alternative crops. Exploiting a unique data set, we show that Western hostile casualties, our proxy for conflict, have a strong impact on subsequent local opium production. Using the period after the planting season as a placebo test, we show that conflict has a strong effect before but no effect after planting, indicating causality.

Suggested Citation

  • Jo Thori Lind & Karl Ove Moene & Fredik Willumsen, 2014. "Opium for the Masses? Conflict-Induced Narcotics Production in Afghanistan," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 949-966, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:96:y:2014:i:5:p:949-966

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ciarli, Tommaso & Kofol, Chiara & Menon, Carlo, 2015. "Business as unusual. An explanation of the increase of private economic activity in high-conflict areas in Afghanistan," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65015, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Vincenzo Bove & Leandro Elia, 2013. "Drugs and Violence in Afghanistan: A Panel Var With Unobserved Common Factor Analysis," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 535-554, December.
    3. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    4. Botero Degiovanni, Hernan, 2013. "The Effects of Drug Enforcement on Violence in Colombia 1999-2010: A Spatial Econometric Approach," MPRA Paper 49459, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:5:p:741-761 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. François Libois, 2016. "Households in Times of War : Adaptation Strategies during the Nepal Civil War," Working Papers 1603, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    7. Mitra, Anirban & Mitra, Shabana, 2016. "Redistribution of Economic Resources due to Conflict: The Maoist Uprising in Nepal," MPRA Paper 75545, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    narcotics production; afghanistan; conflict; farming;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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