Landmines and Spatial Development

Working Paper
Published on 26 October 2023


Landmines affect the lives of millions in many conflict-ridden communities long after the cessation of hostilities. However, there is little research on the role of demining. We examine the economic consequences of landmine removal in Mozambique, the only country to go from heavily contaminated in 1992 to mine-free in 2015. First, we present the self-assembled georeferenced catalog of areas suspected of contamination, along with a detailed record of demining operations. Second, the event-study analysis reveals a robust association between demining activities and local economic performance, reflected in luminosity. Notably, economic activity does not pick up in the years leading up to clearance, nor does it increase when operators investigate areas mistakenly marked as contaminated in prior surveys. Third, recognizing that landmine removal reshapes transportation access, we use a “market access” approach to explore direct and indirect effects. To advance on identification, we isolate changes in market access caused by removing landmines in previously considered safe areas. The positive impacts of clearance extend well beyond immediate areas, with indirect effects twice as large as direct ones. Fourth, policy simulations underscore the substantial economy-wide dividends of clearance, but only when factoring in market-access effects. Additionally, policy counterfactuals uncover significant aggregate costs when demining does not prioritize the unblocking of transportation routes. These results offer insights into the design of demining programs in Ukraine and elsewhere, highlighting the need for centralized coordination and prioritization of areas facilitating commerce.


Giorgio Chiovelli

University of Montevideo

Stelios Michalopoulos

Brown University

Elias Papaioannou

London Business School