Abstract

We study the consequences of an exogenous upsurge in coca prices and cultivation in Colombia, where most coca leaf is now harvested. This shift generated only modest economic gains in rural areas, primarily in the form of increased self-employment earnings and increased labor supply by teenage boys. The rural areas that saw accelerated coca production subsequently became considerably more violent, while urban areas were affected little. These findings are consistent with the view that the Colombian civil conflict is fueled by the financial opportunities that coca provides and that rent-seeking by combatants limits the economic gains from coca.

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