I study the effect of economic liberalization on violent crime. The particular emphasis is on the case of India, where, in the years following 1991, there was a virtual dismantling of controls on entry and production in registered manufacturing. This was accompanied by a significant reduction in impediments to foreign trade and access to foreign exchange. Economic controls create an incentive for illegal trade, and a frequent by-product of illegal trade is violent crime. Consequently, violent crimes such as murders would be expected to decline following market-based reforms. Analysis of aggregate all-India data, as well as data at the state level, suggests that economic reforms did indeed lead to a reduction in violent crime. I extend the analysis to a panel of countries and find strong evidence that greater trade openness is negatively related to violent crime.
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The Journal of Law & Economics
The Journal of Law and Economics is an academic journal published by the University of Chicago Press. It publishes articles on the economic analysis of regulation and the behavior of regulated firms, the political economy of legislation and legislative processes, law and finance, corporate finance and governance, and industrial organization. The journal is sponsored by the University of Chicago Law School.