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The response of illegal mining to revealing its existence

Santiago Saavedra

Documentos de Trabajo from Universidad del Rosario

Abstract: New monitoring technologies can help curb illegal activities by reducing informa- tion asymmetries between enforcing and monitoring government agents. I created a novel dataset using machine learning predictions on satellite imagery that detects illegal mining. Then I disclosed the predictions to government agents to study the response of illegal activity. I randomly assigned municipalities to one of four groups: (1) information to the observer (local government) of potential mine locations in his jurisdiction; (2) information to the enforcer (National government) of potential mine locations; (3) information to both observer and enforcer, and (4) a control group, where I informed no one. The effect of information is relatively similar regardless of who is informed: in treated municipalities, illegal mining is reduced by 11% in the disclosed locations and surrounding areas. However, when accounting for negative spillovers — increases in illegal mining in areas not targeted by the information — the net reduction is only 7%. These results illustrate the benefits of new technologies for building state capacity and reducing illegal activity.

Keywords: Illegal mining; Monitoring Technology; Colombia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H26 K42 O13 O17 Q53 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 48
Date: 2022-05-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-dev and nep-env
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