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Drugs on the Web, Crime in the Streets - The Impact of Dark Web Marketplaces on Street Crime
2020-09, Zambiasi, Diego
The Dark Web has changed the way drugs are traded globally by shifting trade away from the streets and onto the web. In this paper, I study whether the Dark Web has an impact on street crime, a common side effect of traditional drug trade. To identify a causal effect, I use daily data from the US and exploit unexpected shutdowns of large online drug trading platforms. In a regression discontinuity design, I compare crime rates in days after the shutdowns to those immediately preceding them. I find that shutting down Dark Web markets leads to a significant increase in drug trade in the streets. However, the effect is short-lived. In the days immediately following shutdowns, drug-related crimes increase by five to almost ten percent but revert to pre-shutdown levels within ten days. I find no impact of shutdowns of Dark Web marketplaces on thefts, assaults, homicides and prostitution.