The economics of land mines

Landmine contamination affects the lives of millions in many conflict-ridden countries long after the cessation of hostilities. Yet, little research exists on its impact on post-conflict recovery. In this study, we explore the economic consequences of landmine clearance in Mozambique, the only country that has moved from “heavily-contaminated” in 1992 to “mine-free” status in 2015. First, we compile a dataset detailing the evolution of clearance, collecting thousands of reports from the numerous demining actors. Second, we exploit the timing of demining to assess its impact on local economic activity, as reflected in satellite images of light density at night. The analysis reveals a moderate positive association that masks sizeable heterogeneity. Economic activity responds strongly to clearance of the transportation network, trade hubs, and more populous areas, while the demining-development association is weak in rural areas of low population density. Third, recognizing that landmine removal recon figured the accessibility to the transportation infrastructure, we apply a “market-access” approach to quantify both its direct and indirect effects. The market-access estimates reveal substantial improvements on aggregate economic activity. The market-access benefits of demining are also present in localities without any contamination. Fourth, counterfactual policy simulations project considerable gains had the fragmented process of clearance in Mozambique been centrally coordinated, prioritizing clearance of the colonial transportation routes.

That is a new NBER paper by Giorgio Chiovelli, Stelios Michalopoulos, and Elias  Papaioannou, via Dan Wang.  File under “Not Unrelated to NIMBY.”


I have a home in an area that is contaminated. No, not with land mines, but with chemical waste. Being close to the coast, the water table is just below the surface, and contaminants can migrate vast distances. Do the residents know? It's hard not to know with a few chemical plants within sight, not to mention all those inland along the rivers that make there way to the coast. But ignorance is bliss. Chemical contamination is a silent killer, unlike land mines. If land mines contaminated our soil, nobody would purchase a home in this area. But we don't have land mines, we have something far worse. And real estate has never been hotter!

Buyers may be unaware, but mortgage lenders ought not be.

It's economics, not only regulations. For instance, it is very difficult to obtain a loan to finance purchase of ag land that was once fruit orchards. Lead was generally used for pest control and almost always the soil is contaminated. If a lender advanced a loan and held a lien on the land and subsequently caught with the lead contamination, the borrower would default and the contaminated land/collateral value was effectively zero - resulting in a charge-off. Many lenders learned that lesson and have instituted formal environmental risk policies among the lending policies.

Apparently, not in your area.

Maybe, if Americans stopped supporting terrorist regimes, those things would not happen.

Man those Americans are devious.

And really skilled too if they can get Soviet client states to use landmines like that on their own people.

By "their own people", you mean terrorists, right? Will America ever stop to support terrorism? Weren't your Mujahideen friends lesson enough?

"Thousands of landmines were planted near key installations such as electricity pylons and railway viaducts to protect them from sabotage or guerrilla attacks. They had killed or injured 2,458 people by the end of 2013 while also hampering farming and economic development."

What precisely does any of your statement have to do with Mozambique?

I know maps are hard Thiago but you could at least get the continent right in your reply.

Again, American-backed terrorist attacks forced Mozambique and many other countries to deploy landmines to prevent attacks. You are worried about lanfdmines? Stop supporting the terrorists. It is easy. Brazil NEVER support terrorists and never fought a war of aggression.

That statement confirms to me that you have no clue where Mozambique is or what the political dynamics were there through the 70s to early 90s.

This has always been Mozambique on Mozambique ethnic strife tarted up with psuedo marxism during the period in question.

Jihadis are just now creeping in twenty years after those mines were laid and cleared. And even then the Mozambique government is blaming Tanzanians.

And yeah Brazil doesn't support terrorism I'm sure. Too busy killing the indigenous during illegal mining and logging operatiosn to bothrr otherwise.

Maybe if Brazil didn't sell so many landmines around the world in the past (and also retains among largest stockpiles of landmines in the world) , places like Ecuador and Libya wouldn't be riddled with them today:

"The Brazilian T-AB-1 antipersonnel mine appears to be the most frequently used mine by pro-Gaddafi forces. Its low metal content makes the mine particularly challenging for detection and clearance efforts." (p. 11,

"Yet another mine-blast civilian victim in Benghazi":

Maybe Americans should have allowed the Saudis to buy Brazilian tanks instead of theatening them. Then, we woukd have been forced to sell landmines. Ir is not our fault our mines are the best in the world. Also, Brazil abides by all relevant international laws. Maybe Americans just should stop inciting wars.

Brazil is a Janus-faced fake just like you:

"Brazil is hardly a new entrant to the global arms market. The country has signed serious weapons deals with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya and dozens of countries throughout the Middle East and Africa since the 1980s. Domestic criticisms of government subsidies and tax incentives enabling the production of cluster munitions have fallen on deaf ears. In some instances Brazil's Ministry of Defense has actively intervened to keep companies like Avibras solvent, with apparently little regard for where the weapons may end up...

Brazil is now the second largest producer of small arms and ammunition in the Western Hemisphere and ranks fourth in the world. Avibras is currently exploring weapons deals with Saudi Arabia and Qatar valued at more than $2 billion and many other firms are doing brisk business abroad. Yet Brazil prides itself on promoting peace and security while upholding the highest standards of human rights. The brazen contradiction is increasingly difficult to maintain." (

Brazil never fought a war of aggression. Brazil abides to all international treaties. Maybe if America did not force the Saudis to nit buy Brazilian tanks, we would not be selling (totally legal) landmines. If you are worried about Yemen, stop supporting the damn Wahhabists already!!

¿alguna vez has probado el yoga de cabra

'prioritizing clearance of the colonial transportation routes'

Anyone note the one word here that basically reveals what the whole point of 'economic activity' is when using a 'centrally coordinated' approach?

Poison gas, whose effects dissipate fairly quickly over time, are banned by international law but land mines, that can kill innocents for decades into the future and make large areas of land useless are OK.

Russia I can sort of understand wanting mines to defend themselves against Hitlerites. But the United States? I don't get it. Apparently they'd rather step on mines than promise not to use them themselves:

> I don't get it.

There's a little issue involving a place called South Korea.

This should help you "get it."

Still don't get it. Back in 1997 the United States could have built in pretty much any exception it liked. Even today it could probably still do so.

And even if it the only option was to get rid of landmines altogether it would be necessary that other methods of defending the border between the Koreas would be so much more expensive it would outweigh the benefits to the US of a landmine ban.

Further notes:

The anti-personnel mine ban convention doesn't ban all forms of anti-personnel mines. (What kind of crazy world would we be living in if that was the case?)

The US could have signed and not done anything to stop South Korea from planting all the anti-personnel mines they wanted. They could have had a big anti-personnel landmine cakewalk right through the middle of the DMZ.

No, they thought about that, tried to steer the discussion through a different avenue, and failed. The wikipedia page on the Ottawa convention is quite helpful.

Land mines are essential to modern warfare. Chemical weapons are not. Land mines are used to guard flanks and to slow movement, particularly from armored vehicles. Land mines and other obstacles tie together pieces of No Go terrain to aid the defense. With the mobility of modern forces, land mines have never been more necessary. Unfortunately for their users but fortunately for everyone, aerial forces render mines obsolete. But third world militaries don't often have aircraft.

As with most one-sided studies or articles, this ignores the benefits of mines to the belligerents who, you know, didnt want to die and be defeated by their enemies.

This discussion of course doesnt condone indiscriminate use of mines for harassment and terrorism.

This is a potentially explosive report

Maybe we can use it to defuse some of these local conflicts.

I guess we won't be crafting any more mines.

I appreciate your mind-blowing wit, but next time you make a comment like that, please provide a trigger warning.

Well, someone stepped in it.

Be careful where you tread.

{}} "we explore the economic consequences of landmine clearance in Mozambique"

... thank Gott some economists have chosen to explore this most critical issue facing today's world. (who could have ever said today's economists were unproductive?)

Studies like these usually walk hand in hand with political activism. In this case, banning of land mines.

But for isolated examples, land mines could pose a substantial effect inhibiting economic growth, probably on the same order as periodic flooding but within human control.

Traditionally, Afghanistan women were chattel. Among other indignities, women were required to walk several paces behind their owners. Now, they walk ten paces in front.

Thank you land mines!

Who hangs around the rural area? The farmer, singular. He been there when they were planted, he knows where they are, not a big problem.

I worked with someone who did mine clearing in many places. Angola, the Balkans. He was in the Swedish military and did this work for NGO's who funded the removals. Awful work, slow and methodical. How to focus the resources was difficult; the NGOs needed metrics to satisfy donors, but what metric? Number of mines? Area cleared? Arable land cleared? Almost by definition the minefields would prevent transit through an area, so is that the goal, allowing easy transportation?

He saw many parts of the world, worked with locals. He now runs crews cleaning up hazardous materials and sites.

Glad that it sounds like he was still in one piece after that.

Man I can not imagine working in deactivating and clearing mine fields.

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