Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17134 Smuggling, Border Security and International Development In Wadi Khaled, Lebanon: Results From a Random Survey of Households

Friday, January 13, 2012: 9:00 AM
Roosevelt (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Royce A. Hutson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Taylor Long, MA, Research Associate, Pursue Ltd, Beirut, Lebanon
Purpose: The prevention the smuggling of drugs, guns, humans, and other criminal contraband has posed a significant challenge for many governments. The problem is even more acute in developing and underdeveloped countries. Of particular concern to international development experts is the ‘enabling environment' for smuggling that is created when communities accept smuggling behaviors as normative. Also, concern has grown that improving border security in smuggling areas may have significant negative socio-economic impacts on these communities. Using a randomized household survey conducted in a frontier region between Lebanon and Syria well-known for smuggling, this study examines factors associated with smuggling behaviors of common necessities, acceptance of smuggling behaviors in general, and the acceptance of border interdiction. Methods: Using a randomized survey of 763 households in Wadi Khaled, Lebanon, we examined the household and individual socio-demographic characteristics that may be associated with smuggling behavior, the acceptance of smuggling, and the acceptance of smuggling interdiction. The survey was randomized using Randomized GPS Coordinate Sampling. Eight hundred was the chosen sample size as we sought to obtain a 95% confidence interval of approximately ± 3.5%. Following the sampling protocol, a total number of 763 households were interviewed, with a response rate of 96.5%. The number of households interviewed per town in Wadi Khaled was weighted to the proportionate size of that town to the overall population of the region. The survey adapted a series of established measures as well as some designed by the authors with the assistance of the British Embassy in Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces. Results: Most respondents felt that higher taxes in Lebanon and the lack of government assistance to this poor region was an important reason why people engaged in smuggling. Also, most respondents believed that if it was an economic necessity to smuggle than it was an acceptable behavior. Slightly over half felt that improving border security would improve their lives. Using multivariate logistic regressions, we find that being older, a high school graduate, female, and being either unaffiliated or affiliated with the Western-backed political coalition in the Lebanese government was associated with stronger agreement that imposing control on criminal smugglers would improve their quality of life. Being either Sunni or Shia was associated with greater disagreement compared to their Christian counterparts. Having more individuals in the household and being food insecure are associated with greater disagreement with interdiction. Not surprisingly higher income was associated with agreeing with improved border enforcement. These findings were consistent with the smuggling behaviors of the respondent as well. Conclusion: This region is well known for the smuggling of weapons to Hizbollah from Syria under the cloak of smuggling necessities. Improving the economic opportunities for communities in this border region suggest that people would be more accepting of border interdiction, less accepting of smuggling behavior, and would smuggle less. As educational attainment in this region is extremely low compared to other areas of Lebanon, creating opportunities and promoting education will also go a long way in combating smuggling.
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