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Evaluating Economic Warfare: Lessons from Efforts to Suppress the Afghan Opium Trade

Jeffrey P. Clemens

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; NBER

January 28, 2013

In the mid-2000s, U.S. anti-opium policy intensified with a goal of reducing the resources available to Afghan insurgents. To achieve this objective, I show that opium suppression efforts must accurately distinguish between insurgent and non-insurgent suppliers. The required level of accuracy will be particularly high if demand for opium is inelastic and if the insurgents' initial market share is large. Empirically, I show that demand for Afghan opium is relatively inelastic, that the market share of Taliban-heavy areas is large, and that enforcement has primarily impacted non-Taliban territory. Consequently, anti-opium efforts have significantly increased the drug-trade resources flowing to the Taliban.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: National Security, Drug Control Policy, Policy Evaluation, Economics of Crime, Economics of Insurgency

JEL Classification: H56, D78, H50, H00

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Date posted: January 16, 2013 ; Last revised: January 30, 2013

Suggested Citation

Clemens, Jeffrey P., Evaluating Economic Warfare: Lessons from Efforts to Suppress the Afghan Opium Trade (January 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2201172 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2201172

Contact Information

Jeffrey P. Clemens (Contact Author)
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States
HOME PAGE: http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~j1clemens/
NBER ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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