In the fall of 2013, while living in Kitale—a town in Western Kenya—I remember reading through several job market papers posted in blog form on the World Bank’s Development Impact blog. The experience, in part, inspired me to pursue graduate studies in development economics.
You are most likely reading this blog post on a piece of technology using a so-called conflict mineral.
Tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold—collectively referred to as “3TG” minerals—are common inputs in popular products, such as mobile phones, laptops, medical equipment, and jewelry. The extraction of these minerals, however, serve as key sources of revenue for armed rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other surrounding countries. Therefore, a popular narrative suggests that the continued use and international trade of 3TG minerals mined in the DRC and surrounding countries fuels violence and conflict in the region.
Intending to break the link between consumers and armed rebel groups, the United States Government regulated the international trade of 3TG minerals mined in the DRC and surrounding countries—a total of ten countries in Central Africa. This legislation—included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—requires publicly traded companies in the US to report on the presence of “conflict minerals” in their supply chain.
In my job market paper, I estimate the impact of this policy.
HT: David McKenzie for editorial guidance on the blog post.