Three out of four people who form the poorest 1 billion in the world have been affected by some form of group-conflict (Collier 2007). What is the politics of crime and how can one reduce violence?
Public or Private Leviathan? Crime and Development in Contemporary Bihar
How do low-income, conflict prone societies control crime, restore autonomy of the state and transition to developed ones? This project (joint with Ashwani Kumar) seeks answers to two puzzles: (1) How did a ‘weak state’ like Bihar succeed in reducing high-value coercive crimes like kidnapping for ransom, dacoity and murder but the same state was ineffective in controlling other forms of crimes like riots, rapes, crimes against scheduled castes, burglary and theft? (2) If as many as 3 out of 4 convicted criminals have spent only 1 year or less in prison, an unresolved question is why didn’t they resume their activities after they were released?
Unintended Consequences of Alcohol Prohibition in Bihar
This project (joint with Abhilasha Sahay) studies the impact of an alcohol-prohibition policy on crime in the Indian state of Bihar. Using a difference-in-difference empirical strategy, we show that banning the sale and consumption of alcohol led to an increase in crime, even after adjusting for prohibition-related cases. The rise in violent and property crime is highest in districts with greater black-market prices of country liquor. Since state capacity and supply of police is fixed, diverting law enforcement resources towards implementing the alcohol ban effectively reduces institutional bandwidth to prevent crimes.