On the Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets Evidence from a Quasi-experiment in Colombia

Produced by: 
The World Bank
Available from: 
September 2015
Paper author(s): 
Daniel Mejía
Pascual Restrepo
Sandra V. Rozo
Topic: 
Microeconomics - Competition - Productivity
Politics and Economy
Year: 
2015

This paper studies the effects of enforcement on illegal behavior in the context of a large aerial spraying program designed to curb coca cultivation in Colombia. In 2006, the Colombian government pledged not to spray a 10 km band around the frontier with Ecuador due to diplomatic frictions arising from the possibly negative collateral effects of this policy on the Ecuadorian side of the border. This variation is used to estimate the effect of spraying on coca cultivation by regression discontinuity around the 10 km threshold and by conditional differences in differences. The results suggest that spraying one additional hectare reduces coca cultivation by 0.022 to 0.03 hectares; these effects are too small to make aerial spraying a cost-effective policy for reducing cocaine production in Colombia.

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