Panel Paper: Is Social Investment the Answer to Illicit Crops Cultivation?

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 3:50 PM
Thomas Boardroom (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Eleonora Davalos and Stephen Billings, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
About 7 billion USD have been spent since 1999 trying to control cocaine production in Colombia. However, the effectiveness of the strategies used to control coca cultivation is still questionable. This paper proposes an alternative approach to control coca cultivation. It includes social investment as a strategy to reduce crime. The model is tested using a dataset consisting of annual data for 1,101 contiguous municipalities from 2001 to 2010, including the two main strategies to control illicit crops: forced eradication and alternative development programs, and controlling for unobserved cultural attitudes toward crime. Findings reveal a robust significant positive relationship between forced eradication and the area under coca cultivation, exactly the opposite effect intended by policymakers, while social investment emerges as an effective alternative to control illicit crops.