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The Smuggling of Art, and the Art of Smuggling: Uncovering the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property and Antiques

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Listed:
  • Raymond Fisman
  • Shang-Jin Wei

Abstract

We empirically analyze the illicit trade in cultural property and antiques, taking advantage of different reporting incentives between source and destination countries. We generate a measure of illicit trafficking in these goods by comparing imports recorded in United States' customs data and the (purportedly identical) trade recorded by customs authorities in exporting countries. This reporting gap is highly correlated with corruption levels of exporting countries. This correlation is stronger for artifact-rich countries. As a placebo test, we do not observe any such pattern for US imports of toys. We report similar results for four other Western country markets. (JEL F14, K42, Z11, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2009. "The Smuggling of Art, and the Art of Smuggling: Uncovering the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property and Antiques," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 82-96, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:3:p:82-96 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.82
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. de Sousa, José & Mayer, Thierry & Zignago, Soledad, 2012. "Market access in global and regional trade," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, pages 1037-1052.
    2. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10187 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dean Yang, 2008. "Can Enforcement Backfire? Crime Displacement in the Context of Customs Reform in the Philippines," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 1-14.
    4. Prachi Mishra & Arvind Subramanian & Petia Topalova, 2007. "Policies, Enforcement, and Customs Evasion; Evidence from India," IMF Working Papers 07/60, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
    6. Dean Yang, 2004. "Can Enforcement Backfire? Crime Displacement in the Context of Customs Reform in the Philippines," Working Papers 520, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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