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The Determinants and Effects of Khat Consumption: Evidence from Djibouti and Yemen Household Surveys


This research proposes to study the use and effects of khat, a hallucinogen that is ingested by chewing, and is of considerable economic and social significance in East Africa and Southern Arabia. In Djibouti, khat imports account for about 1/10th of total imports. And household data show that, on average, khat expenditures account for 10 percent of total household expenditures – which is three times more than combined household expenditures on health and education. In Yemen, khat production is estimated to reach 25 percent of GDP, 16 percent of employment, and to account for 30 percent of water use.

The research has two objectives. The first is descriptive: to present a profile of khateurs. This means to investigate their characteristics: age (what is the percentage of khateurs among the young; is it greater than among the middle-aged or not etc.) education, sex, income level. The second objective is to try to assess the possible effects of khat consumption in a number of areas. For example, (a) is there a substitution between consumption of khat and food, because less income is left out for food, and because consumption of khat reduces appetite of khateurs, (b) are khateurs’ children –controlled for all other variables—more likely to be under-nourished and to have lower school attendance.

The research will use qualitative and quantitative data. The individual-level data provided by the Yemeni and Djibouti Household Budget Surveys conducted in respectively in 1998 and 1997 will be used for quantitative analyses. Qualitative participatory research will also be conducted to explore the same hypotheses and to understand the social and psychological dimensions of khat chewing – that is, the reasons why people chew khat and the barriers to change.

Proponents: Branko Milanovic, Lead Economist, DECRG, and Safaa El-Kogali, Young Professional MNSHD

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