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Tajikistan: Political economy of drug addiction


Harald Edinger

Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, US
About Harald
MA, Class of 2014
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Narcotics are the lifeblood of Tajikistan’s economy: drug trading makes up for at least 30 per cent of the country’s GDP. This article addresses the questions of why and how this dependency materializes, and what the effects are on the economy and population. The analysis is structured along the following pattern: i) Causes of addiction: for what reasons is the economy addicted, and why is there no reduction of trafficked volumes despite international efforts? ii) Extent of addiction: how dependent is Tajikistan on drug trafficking in economic terms, and are there sensible ways to measure it? iii) Consequences of addiction: what short- and long-run economic, sociological and political effects is Tajikistan facing if it stays “hooked”? The article concludes with a brief discussion of iv) Counter narcotics policies: what is the current approach to Tajikistan’s problems, and does it work? This article argues that Western donor governments should reconsider the way they are combatting drug trafficking in Tajikistan. A sound approach will recognize that the production of opiates is largely demand-driven, and should thus be aimed primarily at demand reduction. Opium and heroin bring death and destruction along the paths they travel, but they also inject an immense amount of wealth into the Tajik economy. Counter narcotics policies must, therefore, be evaluated with a view to the potentially destabilizing effects on the socioeconomic fabric, in particular to which segments of the population they are hurting.

How to Cite: Edinger, H., 2016. Tajikistan: Political economy of drug addiction. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 4(1), pp.55–81.
Published on 01 Jan 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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