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Local Labor Market Conditions and Crime: Evidence from the Brazilian Trade Liberalization

Listed author(s):
  • Dix-Carneiro, Rafael

    ()

    (Duke University)

  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Ulyssea, Gabriel

    ()

    (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio))

This paper estimates the effect of local labor market conditions on crime in a developing country with high crime rates. Contrary to the previous literature, which has focused exclusively on developed countries with relatively low crime rates, we find that labor market conditions have a strong effect on homicides. We exploit the 1990s trade liberalization in Brazil as a natural experiment generating exogenous shocks to local labor demand. Regions facing more negative shocks experience large relative increases in crime rates in the medium term, but these effects virtually disappear in the long term. This pattern mirrors the labor market responses to the trade shocks. Using the trade liberalization episode to design an instrumental variables strategy, we find that a 10% reduction in expected labor market earnings (employment rate × earnings) leads to a 39% increase in homicide rates. Our results highlight an additional dimension of adjustment costs following trade shocks that has so far been overlooked in the literature.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 9638.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2016
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9638
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  1. Ariaster B. Chimeli & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2017. "The Use of Violence in Illegal Markets: Evidence from Mahogany Trade in the Brazilian Amazon," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 30-57, October.
  2. Petia Topalova, 2010. "Factor Immobility and Regional Impacts of Trade Liberalization: Evidence on Poverty from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 1-41, October.
  3. Costa, Francisco & Garred, Jason & Pessoa, João Paulo, 2016. "Winners and losers from a commodities-for-manufactures trade boom," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 50-69.
  4. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
  5. Naércio Aquino Menezes Filho & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2007. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 1936, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. David H. Autor & David Dorn & Gordon H. Hanson & Jae Song, 2014. "Trade Adjustment: Worker-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1799-1860.
  7. Koujianou Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "The response of the informal sector to trade liberalization," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 463-496, December.
  8. Olivier Deschênes & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality, and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 659-681, November.
  9. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 39-82, March.
  10. Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Julien Pouget, 2009. "Youth Unemployment and Crime in France," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 909-938, September.
  11. Rafael Dix‐Carneiro, 2014. "Trade Liberalization and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(3), pages 825-885, May.
  12. Brian K. Kovak, 2013. "Regional Effects of Trade Reform: What Is the Correct Measure of Liberalization?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1960-1976, August.
  13. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  14. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  15. Hale Utar, 2016. "Workers Beneath the Floodgates: Low-Wage Import Competition and Workers' Adjustment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6224, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Inequality And Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 530-539, November.
  17. Ming-Jen Lin, 2008. "Does Unemployment Increase Crime?: Evidence from U.S. Data 1974–2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 413-436.
  18. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-791, October.
  19. Kislaya Prasad, 2012. "Economic Liberalization and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(4), pages 925-948.
  20. François Bourguignon & Jairo Nuñez & Fabio Sanchez, 2003. "A Structural Model of Crime and Inequality in Colombia," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 440-449, 04/05.
  21. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
  22. Nina Pavcnik & Andreas Blom & Pinelopi Goldberg & Norbert Schady, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Industry Wage Structure: Evidence from Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(3), pages 319-344.
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