Environmental Protection after Civil War: A Difference-in-Geographic-Discontinuity Approach
40 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021 Last revised: 20 May 2021
Date Written: May 11, 2021
Although civil war devastates the environment, we still do not understand the role of environmental policies in post-conflict countries and often have a pessimistic view without empirical evidence. We challenge this view by arguing that the introduction of independent monitoring mechanisms can make environmental regulations effective even in post-conflict countries. We substantiate this claim by exploiting analytical opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2011–2013, the government implemented independent monitoring mechanisms to lessen the side effects of mining activities on deforestation. The reform, however, only applied to mining permit zones, which had arbitrary square shapes. By combining a geographic regression discontinuity and difference in differences to what we call a difference-in-geographic-discontinuity (DiGD) design, as well as using satellite-based data available at every 30 meters for over 40 million cells in the DRC, we find that the 2011–2013 reform substantially decreased deforestation rates immediately inside the mining permits. This finding implies that the environmental effects of civil war can crucially depend on post-conflict policies.
Keywords: civil war, deforestation, difference in geographic discontinuity, satellite data
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