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Traders, cops and robbers


  • Anderson, James E.
  • Bandiera, Oriana


Why does illegal trade often flourish without formal enforcement, but sometimes fail? Why do illegal trade-reducing policies often fail? Why do States often appear to tolerate illegal trade? A model of trade with cops and robbers provides answers. `Safety in numbers' is a key element: the equilibrium probability of successful shipments is increasing in trade volume. Even without conventional fixed costs, safety in numbers implies scale economies which can explain the absence or robustness of trade subject to predation. Spilling over between markets, safety in numbers implies that illegal trade can foster legal trade and State revenue.
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Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, James E. & Bandiera, Oriana, 2006. "Traders, cops and robbers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 197-215, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:70:y:2006:i:1:p:197-215

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, 2005. "Anarchy And Autarky: Endogenous Predation As A Barrier To Trade," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(1), pages 189-213, February.
    2. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-1295, December.
    3. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Marcouiller, Douglas & Young, Leslie, 1995. "The Black Hole of Graft: The Predatory State and the Informal Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 630-646, June.
    5. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, 2002. "Insecurity And The Pattern Of Trade: An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 342-352, May.
    6. Anderson, James E. & Marcouiller, S.J. Douglas, 1997. "Trade and Security, I: Anarchy," Working Paper Series 477, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    7. Grossman, Herschel I., 2002. ""Make us a king": anarchy, predation, and the state," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-46, March.
    8. James E. Anderson & Leslie Young, 2002. "Imperfect Contract Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 8847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Grossman, Herschel I. & Noh, Suk Jae, 1994. "Proprietary public finance and economic welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 187-204, February.
    10. Neher, Philip A, 1978. "The Pure Theory of the Muggery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 437-445, June.
    11. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    12. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2001. "The growth of world trade: tariffs, transport costs, and income similarity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sami Bensassi & Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, 2012. "How Costly is Modern Maritime Piracy to the International Community?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(5), pages 869-883, November.
    2. Arghya Ghosh & Peter Robertson, 2012. "Trade and expropriation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 50(1), pages 169-191, May.
    3. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Naghavi, Alireza & Prarolo, Giovanni, 2010. "Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 23136, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Naghavi, Alireza & Prarolo, Giovanni, 2016. "Islam, inequality and pre-industrial comparative development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 86-98.
    5. James Anderson, 2009. "Does trade foster contract enforcement?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 41(1), pages 105-130, October.
    6. James E. Anderson, 2008. "Economic Integration and the Civilising Commerce Hypothesis," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(1), pages 141-157, January.
    7. Anderson, James E., 2015. "Terrorism, trade and public policy," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 180-190.
    8. Scott L. Baier & Gerald P. Dwyer & Robert Tamura, 2004. "Factor returns, institutions, and geography: a view from trade," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2004-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    9. Anderson, James & Vesselovsky, Mykyta & Yotov, Yoto, 2014. "Gravity with Scale Economies," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2014-4, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
    10. Timothy Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2015. "The Welfare Cost Of Lawlessness: Evidence From Somali Piracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 203-239, April.
    11. Marcus Noland & Stephan Haggard, 2012. "Networks, Trust, and Trade: The Microeconomics of China–North Korea Integration," Working Paper Series WP12-8, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    12. James E. Anderson, 2006. "Commercial Policy in a Predatory World," NBER Working Papers 12576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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